Art of Aging: Positive impact of pets and seniors

WEST DEPTFORD, New Jersey (WPVI) -- Every year, the last full week of September is designated National Dog Week.

One Gloucester County resident and pet lover shows the positive impact dogs can make in the lives in seniors.

Peggy Wittmeyer from West Deptford, New Jersey says she has had a fondness for pets her entire life.


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"They're good for you I think. They're really nice. Oh, I love them!" she said with a laugh.

She has two pets that she rescued a few years ago from a local shelter.

"We have a Belle too and there's Paco. He's old, but you'll see he's good. He's nice and he's the best," said Peggy.

Peggy's family hired a caregiver from Home Instead Senior Care to help take care of both her and her pets.


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"Well she has dementia, so she needed help in her home with daily tasks," said Peggy's stepdaughter, Lynn Datz.

Lynn says it was important to them that she be able to maintain that relationship with her animals.

"Her whole life is taking care of her pets and making sure they're perfectly taken care of. She gives them love and they give her love back," she said.

Home Instead Senior Care is currently running a campaign in Gloucester County focusing on pets and seniors.


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"Well, the goal is really to help prevent social isolation. They like to care for the animals, it gives them something to do - it gives them a purpose," said Jodi Goldberg, franchise owner.

Jodi says owning a pet, or just visiting with one, can also help seniors with loneliness and depression.

"And to have an animal to care for is a great way to help stimulate them," she said.

Peggy's caregiver, Marilu Yeager, says her pets have a positive effect on her, both mentally and physically.

"Every morning we go to the park because she can see more people over there and she's so different, she's so excited," she said.

Marilu says walking the dog is a helpful routine for Peggy.

"It's the best company for Peggy, she loves him," she said.
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