Senior citizens are one of the most underutilized and underappreciated age groups. Active seniors in good health have the time and often the financial ability to be partners and supporters of the local animal shelter. Having a purpose and passion are so important for their well-being. Shelters can partner with this group for fundraising, pet adoptions, and more. Following are some ideas for animal shelters to partner with seniors in your community.
All animal lovers can help involve seniors since we all have older family members. Could you involve your retired aunt in your local shelter’s fundraising or volunteer efforts? Would a senior in your family be willing to foster a homeless pet?
Organize a “seniors (pets) for seniors (people)” event.
Team up with senior citizens’ communities to conduct an adoption event for their citizens. Older pets are perfect choices for senior citizens since they’re less active. Younger pets can create a hazard for seniors by being underfoot. This event would be for active seniors who lead active lives, not for anyone needing medical assistance.
There are many adult/senior communities, including rental units for independent living, housing developments for those over 55, etc. Rental communities sometimes won’t allow pets. The reason often given is that they don’t want to be responsible for the care of the pets if the senior becomes ill. However many places are allowing pets so they can be competitive with facilities that do allow pets.
Meet with the senior communities’ management about their pet policy. Pets have been proven to be beneficial to the health of seniors. Be prepared to show statistics and facts to explain this benefit. Make senior pets available at a lower cost. Offer a class on pet care just for seniors.
Find a senior activity and recreation center to sponsor your shelter.
Ask to conduct an adoption event at their facilities.
Offer low-cost adoption fees and pet education classes for their members. Shelters can do this on an ongoing basis, perhaps twice a year. Ask these activity centers if you can advertise all your fundraising events in their newsletter, on bulletin boards, etc. Members of these groups are excellent candidates to adopt pets as well as donate and help with fundraising activities.
Seniors can foster homeless pets.
Homeless pets which have been abused, malnourished, or abandoned often need to be fostered before they are ready to be adopted. These animals may need medications, trips to vets, etc. Seniors have time to provide this additional care.
Advertise in senior publications.
Research how to reach seniors in your community and start advertising, publishing articles, etc. Many newspapers publish a special section for seniors. Some communities publish a monthly senior publication. Submit articles to these publications on the health benefits for seniors of owning pets. Or write about your shelter’s “seniors for seniors” program. Post information on the bulletin boards of senior centers, libraries, and churches.
Establish a senior “friends” group for your shelter.
Animal-loving seniors with time, friends, and business contacts could be an invaluable source of ideas, volunteers, donations, and reach into your community. So many seniors are looking for ways to use their time in a meaningful way. What could be more meaningful than helping your shelter raise money and find more homes for your homeless pets? This group could be one of your most active and productive. Be creative in meeting with this group. Rotate the meeting place, such as your shelter’s meeting room if you have one, a senior recreation center meeting room, your local library, or someone’s home.
Seniors enjoy a variety of activities and you can make these meetings both productive and social. Pick their brains on fundraising ideas just for seniors, how to increase the numbers of seniors fostering homeless pets, etc. Ask them how to develop a larger donor base of senior citizens.
Develop a list of senior volunteers for the shelter.
Ask seniors to help socialize cats and walk dogs, to work at the front desk, to work at fundraising events, to help with humane education at local schools (retired school teachers would be great for this), etc. If you have one-time needs, such as making signs, try to involve seniors.
Remind seniors about planned giving to your shelter.
Animal lovers can leave a legacy for animals by including a bequest in their wills, gifts of property or real estate, as a beneficiary of life insurance policies, IRA’s and other retirement plans, etc. Don’t be shy about asking animal lovers to remember your shelter in wills and trusts. Publish information about this on your website. Be sure your senior friend’s group, senior volunteers, etc know about this. Many people leave part of their estate to charitable groups even if they have large families.
The local shelter here in Santa Fe was a major beneficiary a couple of years ago of an elderly couple who had accumulated a large estate. If you publish a print or email newsletter, suggest planning to give as a way animal lovers can help the shelter.