The Positive Impact of Pets…and So Much More

"My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet."—Edith Wharton

"A dog is the only thing on earth that will love you more than you love yourself."—Josh Billings

"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'"—Dave Barry

Aren't pets wonderful? The November 2012 issue of AgeWise is about pets—those furry, fuzzy, and often funny household creatures many of us keep for companionship and enjoyment.

This issue started with my ADS Advisory Council colleagues, Bev Heyden and Berta Seltzer, who wanted to write about the very real benefits of owning a pet. A former Advisory Council member (and chair), Michael Miller, offered to tell the story of how two service dogs, Zoe and Diego, saved his life. And a local nonprofit organization that trains therapy pets and their owners in 11 countries, Pet Partners, seemed to round out the story of the important role of pets in our society.

Here I sit with my two dogs at my feet. One of my dogs flunked out of service training when she chased a cat. We adopted a nine-year-old and a seven-year-old dog. I think puppies are for younger folks and we gray-haired folks should adopt old pets. Fortunately, there are a number of senior discounts on adoption, licensing, and spay/neuter services for cats and older dogs. Click on the article links at right and you'll find them.

Just a word of warning: As much as we love them, pets can also present a falling hazard, and falling is a real problem for older people. Read Preventing Falls Around Pets for tips to stay safe around cats and dogs.

November is also National Family Caregivers Month. This recognition dates back to 1983, when President Ronald Reagan, who was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, designated November as National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month. In 1997, President Bill Clinton named the week of Thanksgiving as a time to honor caregivers, and that has expanded to National Family Caregivers Month.

We recognize and honor the many caregivers among us, and are including articles about managing chronic disease and managing stress. Hopefully this information will help make their efforts a little easier year round.

In November, we also celebrate Veteran's Day. Aging and Disability Services offers a special service for veterans who struggle with minor depression. Read about the Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives for Veterans. Please be sure to watch ADS case manager and Vietnam veteran Paul Snow’s digital story about PEARLS for Veterans.

Other articles discuss assistive technology and free tax preparation services. And don’t miss the many November calendar events.

Whether it's pet care, caregiving activities, intentional physical activity, lifelong learning, or volunteerism, get moving, stay connected, and make a difference. Happy November!

—Diane Snell, Chair
Seattle-King County Advisory Council for Aging and Disability Services