'It's a godsend,' says an Indianapolis group that distributes Meals & More to area elderly and their pets.
INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Almost everything has increased in price during the pandemic, from food to medications, gas, and even pet food.
The rising cost of living has forced people to make difficult decisions, particularly for homebound elders and disabled people who, in some cases, live alone.
The Central Indiana Council on Aging, or CICOA, has established a new program that provides low-income, homebound elderly individuals with free pet food and supplies so they may retain their pets and live peacefully.
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Meals & More, a grant partnership between Meals On Wheels and PetSmart Charities, is part of the CICOA's Aging and In-Home Solutions program. Since launching the service in December, it has assisted in the provision and delivery of pet food to 100 people.
We see this as a huge opportunity for elders to be able to stop worrying about feeding themselves or getting their prescriptions filled... President & CEO of CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions Tauhric Brown said, "They may say my pet food is already taken care of since CICOA has provided me this week, or the next two weeks meals for my pet."
It's extremely crucial. We realize that many of our senior citizens are lonely... Adult children have left the state, many of their acquaintances have died, and they now find themselves in circumstances where they are entirely alone. Having a furry buddy, whether it's a barking or meowing sort, can significantly reduce social isolation, depression, and anxiety. It is beneficial in a variety of conditions.
Alan Hall, who lives in the Crestwood Village assisted living community on Madison Avenue, was the first recipient of the new $7,500 grant. He's never been happier with his cat Princess.
She's black, with lovely green eyes, and she just acted like a princess, Hall added, acting very ladylike and like a princess would. She's a godsend, I tell everyone. When I needed her the most, God sent me to her.
Hall recalls meeting Princess as a stray cat on his stoop on a frigid winter night several years ago. He lured her out of the cold by offering her some of his own food, a can of tuna fish, and the two have been together ever since.
I wouldn't have been able to make it without her. I'd already be there... Hall stated, "I don't know what I would have done. She is my constant companion, protector, and true friend.
Hall's leg was amputated due to diabetes. His wife died after a heart attack. His grown children have subsequently left the state. He is a solitary individual.
I'm blessed with wonderful children. I'm not concerned about them in the least. My son is in the United States Army and is stationed in Fort Camel, Kentucky, according to Hall. He's also preparing to be promoted to Sergeant. He should be proud of himself. All of them make me proud.
Hall is still alone at home, as proud as he is. He admits that getting around in a wheelchair on his own can be difficult. Getting through the day-to-day grind can be difficult at times.
Brown stated, It's just Alan here. But, you know, having Princess to chat to? He benefits from being fed, petted, and simply spent time with. She is a huge assistance to him.
Feeding and caring for a pet, on the other hand, might be difficult for low-income seniors. It's a challenge Hall isn't afraid to take on.
Dry food, kitten litter, and keeping her healthy all add up, according to Hall. She would eat first if I barely had 35 cents and needed to eat. I can take care of myself, but animals can't. They require assistance. Shelters require assistance.
Hall and Brown both anticipate that this new initiative will help relieve the stress that central Indiana animal shelters, such as Indy Humane, are under by making adoption a much more feasible option for seniors looking for a companion.
To be able to supply pet food to seniors so that they don't have to choose between filling their prescription or feeding themselves this month... rather, feeding their pets, Brown believes, could help tip the scales. Having this type of safety net service available is quite critical for the long-term sustainability of keeping that senior in their own home.
The CICOA's mission is simply this. CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions is Indiana's largest local aging agency. They seek to keep elderly individuals and people with disabilities in their own homes rather of being displaced and transported to a different setting. They cover Marion and the seven doughnut counties.
For example, Hall claims that it has aided him. It aided me in saving money because I spend a lot of money on her food and making sure she is well cared for and happy.
In the following weeks, Hall will begin physical therapy for a new prosthetic limb. By spring, he wants to be able to walk again with the assistance of Princess.
You can join up for this program with the CICOA or donate to the cause on their website to assist the nonprofit reach even more Hoosier seniors.
Brown remarked, I'm calling on you, Central Indiana. Because it truly does take a village to continue to expand initiatives that we know have a positive impact.