Pet Therapy Benefits Seniors

Did you know that seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less often than those who don’t? In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had a 21 percent lower level of physician contact than non-owners.

Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to $1.18 per patient per day when nursing homes allowed for pets to be introduced into patient’s environments. Nursing homes in New York, Missouri and Texas were all used in the study.

I was first introduced to pet therapy in college.  I volunteered with an organization that took dogs from the local shelter and brought them to a nearby assisted living facility.  It was so much fun to sit with the seniors and listen to them tell me their life stories while we played with the dogs.  It was also a great way to get the dogs out of the shelter for the day.  It was what you call a win-win!  

Today I took our dog Kaya to the Adult Day Health Center at the Durham Center for Senior Life.  I was a little nervous at first because Kaya can be a barker, but she was a perfect angel!  The seniors took turns holding her in their lap and petting her.  My only regret was that it was just me and Kaya.  I wish we had more dogs with us so all of the seniors would have the opportunity to pet a dog.  I’ll be recruiting my friends with dogs to join me next time!  

Please enjoy these pictures of Kaya with the seniors and if you’d like to learn more about the Adult Day Health program at the Durham Center For Senior Life, please click here.  It is a wonderful program that helps seniors and their families!

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Join Us at the Sunset Golf Classic!

Wiggen Law Group will be at the Sunset Golf Classic on May 16th at Croasdaile Country Club.  This is a great event to raise money for Durham Seniors.  Please join us  for the entire day beginning with a hot southern breakfast at 8:30am , lots of golf and ending with the “banquet/silent auction after party”

If you’re not a golfer, you can still attend the silent auction after party for only $25!  This buys you all the beer and wine you desire, fabulous food from Thrills from the Grill, live beach music by Chuck Alford and a chance to bid on some excellent items at the silent auction while networking with many of your colleagues.

For more information visit

Please feel free to contact me with questions. If you’re interested in donating an item to the silent auction or promotional items for the golfers’ goodie bags, please let Jean Carden know by Friday of this week.  You can contact her at the Durham Center for Senior Life: (919)688.8247.

Divorce Can Complicate Social Security Claims

Consider this:

Roughly half of the people who get married in the United States will end up divorced. And Social Security is the primary source of income for 72% of unmarried retirees, many of whom are single because they’re divorced.

Unfortunately, few financial advisors put those two facts together and focus on how divorce, as well as re-marriage, can affect retirement planning, said Rob Kron, head of advisor education initiatives at the New York-based investment firm BlackRock.

Click here to read the entire article from the Los Angeles Times.

SSA Adds 38 Conditions to Those Qualifying for Automatic Disability Benefits

In certain circumstances the Social Security Administration (SSA) will fast-track a disability benefits application through a process known as Compassionate Allowances, usually because the applicant is suffering from a severe disability that may be life-threatening. The original Compassionate Allowances program defined 50 conditions, including many cancers and other terminal conditions, that obviously met disability standards and led to a much faster disability benefits application process. As of March 1, 2010, the SSA will add an additional 38 conditions to the Compassionate Allowances list, greatly expanding the number of people who are eligible for the program.

Although most of the conditions on the revised list are very rare, the SSA has included early-onset Alzheimer’s disease as one of the new conditions, meaning that people who contract Alzheimer’s before turning 65 could receive disability benefits immediately. Adding the new conditions to the initial list could result in an additional 40,000 to 50,000 new fast-tracked disability benefits approvals in 2010 alone. Social Security Administrator Michael Astrue explained that the SSA “will continue to hold hearings and look for other diseases and conditions that can be added to our list of Compassionate Allowances. There can be no higher priority than getting disability benefits quickly to those Americans with these severe and life-threatening conditions.

To read an article in the Senior Journal about the changes, click here.

To see the list of new conditions, click here.

The original 50 conditions can be found here.