BROOKVILLE — To help combat social isolation and depression among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, the Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging, in partnership with award-winning robotic pet manufacturer Ageless Innovation and the Pennsylvania LINK Program, is distributing up to 50 robotic Joy for All Companion Pets to those most at-risk for social isolation.

“Social isolation was already a serious public health problem for older individuals who have limited social connections, and the COVID-19 virus has made this problem exponentially worse,” said JCAAA Executive Director Molly McNutt. “Social isolation also puts older adults at greater risk for a number of physiological issues such as decline in mobility, heart disease including heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure, cognitive decline, infectious illness, and chronic illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes. We are so grateful for this partnership with Ageless Innovation and are excited to work alongside their team to deliver pets to those who will benefit from their companionship.”

It is well known that social isolation disproportionately affects older adults, many of whom often only have social contact out of the home at community venues or places of worship. Those who do not have close family or friends and rely on the support of community services are at additional risk, along with those who are already lonely or isolated.

Joy for All Companion Pets allow socially isolated older adults to receive similar gratification and comfort that they would from live pets by calming anxiety, decreasing loneliness, and providing a better quality of life — without needing to worry about food or vet bills.

Cheryl Muders, longterm care director for JCAAA says, “Many older adults who love pets can no longer take care of them, and robotic pets are a wonderful substitute,” said Cheryl Muders, longterm care director for JCAAA. “They meow or bark, move, and can be loved and snuggled. During this incredibly difficult time, these robotic companion pets are even more comforting and appreciated by isolated older adults.”

Older adults, or their family members, who are interested in participating in this program are encouraged to contact the JCAAA at 814-814-3096. A quick six question loneliness scale will be conducted over the telephone. Arrangements will then be made for pick-up of the pet.

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