When an animal shelter in Arizona needed extra help taking care of the newborn kittens, they made an unexpected decision and turned to a senior care facility for help. “To some, it may seem peculiar at first: Residents who are in need of around-the-clock care themselves, given the task to care for these young kittens,” says Catalina Springs Memory Care Executive Director Sharon Mercer. “But there are skills, emotions, and needs that do not just leave a person with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. The desire to give love and receive love remains.”
The program who was created by the health services director Rebecca Hamilton. In addition to caring for the elders, the woman also volunteers to foster felines. She noticed that taking care of cats was bringing her a lot of joy and happiness, and knew she had to share it with the seniors.
The initiative proved to be a success, as the overall condition of both the kittens and the elderly has improved. The elders were asked to take care of two newborn cats, Turtle and Peaches, and both of the kittens have doubled in weight. As for patients of the memory care facility, ”The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents,” says Mercer. The joy that the elderly get from bottle feeding, socializing, and cuddling needy newborns is immense – and the kittens feel grateful too.