Helping Paws: The Benefits of Pet Ownership for Seniors

There are many reasons why dogs are man’s best friend.

Anyone who owns a pet (or watched a fun dog or cat video on YouTube) can tell you the many benefits of having an animal friend around the house. Yet, did you know that studies have proven pets to be particularly beneficial to seniors?

Whether you’re a dog, cat, or bird lover, you can appreciate these reasons for welcoming a pet into the family of your aging parents or grandparents!

Pets are great companions. About 6 million American seniors over the age of 65 struggle with depression. Only 10% receive treatment. As seniors begin to endure more physical challenges that limit their ability to get out of the house, pets are great emotional support to loneliness. Furry companions provide humor and support, whether it’s the unconditional love of a dog or the more subdued friendship of a cat. And, if a cat or a dog is too much work, a bird or other small animal is beneficial as well. The chirping of a bird will liven up any home…as long as it doesn’t get too loud!

Pets make every day happier. Therapy dogs are commonly used to help people struggling with physical or mental illness. Nursing homes will sometimes have therapy dogs on staff to work with patients of Alzheimer’s and dementia, or will bring them in for patients who would love a special visitor. In addition, many assisted living or retirement communities have someone on staff to help pets stay happy, healthy, and cared for on a daily basis.

Pets make every day healthier. Studies have found that pets can improve more than mental health. Pet owners have lower cholesterol and less heart issues, and when kids are introduced to pets at a young age, have less issues with allergies. Dogs are the perfect pet for seniors who are looking to live a more active lifestyle—walking them or taking them to the park are two awesome ways to get exercise and connect with other pet owners.

Pets are cute! Let’s be honest—kids and grand kids would love it if their parents or grandparents got a pet so they can pet sit!

It’s important to note that, although pets can be great companions, make sure to weigh the positives and negatives before surprising a senior with an animal to care for. Finding an animal with the right temperament is an important part of the decision—an energetic puppy may not be the right choice if your loved one is struggling to get around their home, especially if they’re a first time pet owner. However, there are always options to bring in extra help if needed. Hiring a pet sitter to check in on a daily or weekly basis might be a good idea if you think your aging loved one needs a little support.

Seriously consider recommending a pet to your aging loved ones if you think they can handle the responsibilities. Sure, the physical benefits of pet ownership are great, but even more than that, the fun and love they bring can really help someone who’s lonely or depressed. There’s nothing better than the companionship of a pet to save the day!


More Information on Pet Ownership for Seniors:

Getting To Know Our Team of Home Care Professionals

Staff Spotlight: Bob Jordan

What is your position at Feinberg Consulting?

I wear a variety of hats. I can, at one moment, be a Client Services Manager, and, at the next moment, be a Case Manager, and the moment following be a Recovery Coach. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to see all aspects and facets of what we do.

How long have you worked here?

I started with Feinberg Consulting as a contractor, as a Recovery Coach, about two and a half years ago. I came on full-time with Feinberg right after the first of 2017.

Why did you decide to join the company?

I’ve known Steve and Pam outside of the organization for a period time [before I started as a contractor], and I really saw what it was they were doing together. I’ve had other friends who have been contractors or worked for Feinberg, and when the opportunity presented itself, I said of course.

What is your favorite part of your job?

The favorite part of the job for me is knowing we’re making a distinct and substantive difference in the lives of families affected by addiction. An intervention can be the interruption that saves a person’s life. It brings a new level of peace back into the family, and family coaching and recovery coaching allow for expanded growth within the individual [directly experiencing the addiction], as well as all of those the individual might touch. So the family begins to heal, and it brings an increased level of peace into the family and into the community.

What is unique about Feinberg Addiction Services’ approach to addiction treatment?

Perhaps the greatest distinction would be what we do with coaching isn’t classic treatment as such. Treatment has a very specific, formulaic approach, if you will, and there are certain specific psychological and psychiatric approaches that support someone in very early recovery, beginning with re-framing their thinking. There’s certainly a place for that, a place for psychiatry and 12-step sponsorship. What coaching does is it allows us to really get in and see all the areas of their life, and we invite the person to develop new passions and a purpose, which serves as some form of momentum as they’re moving away from addiction. Often, in early recovery, people are still in the process of moving away from the pain their addiction has caused. They’re moving away from the chaos, disorder, and dysfunction, and you get to a certain point at which you need motivation. The push isn’t very strong and you need to have something to pull you into the future. That’s where coaching can serve an individual by identifying what their future goals are and what their passions are. What it is they’re most connected to in the world. And when they get off track, [coaches] remind them of their passion, ask if it is still their passion, and bring them back so they’re working all of their efforts to fulfill their purpose and passion.

How does coaching fit into the process of recovery?

Coaching can occur in a variety of different ways. You can coach someone into treatment. An intervention is essentially a coaching into treatment, and it’s a very strong interruption in a person’s life. The post-treatment coaching is supporting the aspect of maintaining abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, in identifying [a client’s] passion. Sometimes coaching is an interruption itself. It can be sort of the meeting of the minds where we discuss what is important to the client, and potentially what are they showing me that demonstrates other things are important. Some people don’t have the capacity to reflect on their own lives in such a way to say to themselves, “This is my goal but I keep doing this. Or, this is my goal because Mom, Dad, society, and others think I should have this as my goal, but I’m really passionate about something else.” Coaches work with clients to figure out how to blend those two or to develop the capacity to stand up for their passions. It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and courage to address family who might have different goals for you, and say, “This is what I want to do instead.” Coaching allows us to be able to do that. In addition, classic treatment is usually very short term in nature. Coaches have a longer period of time with the client, and can work face to face, over the phone, Skype, or with other forms of technology. It’s a wonderful opportunity.

How does family coaching support families when someone is struggling with addiction?

We see addiction as a family disease, so we want to make sure the people who are closest to the individual and have the most frequent contact—parents, siblings, other family members—have family coaching and support. Because, as they told me when I was in treatment over 30 years ago, sometimes the family gets sicker than the person who’s using. The person who’s using is using a substance to generate a specific response, and the family actually begins to change their behavior to protect the person who’s using. They do it without using drugs, so sometimes those patterns of behavior need to be addressed, interrupted, and re-patterned. Family coaching is a really great way to do that, and we’ve got some really great people doing family coaching with us right now.

What are your favorite hobbies outside of work?

One of my favorite hobbies is trying new different foods. I’m always looking for really good barbecue and Indian food wherever I go. I also love traveling. I have the opportunity to travel pretty frequently and it’s a good thing. Family is really important to me as well. I have 8 grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and another great-granddaughter on the way. They’re scattered all over and I see them primarily during the holidays.

Bob with four of his grandchildren and the family’s foreign exchange student!

20 Facts About Addiction You Need To Know

7 Frequently Asked Questions About Process Addictions

What is a process addiction?

Process addictions are also known as behavioral addictions because of the need to continually repeat a certain behavior or string of behaviors without the impulse control to stop. Eventually, the process someone is addicted to has damaging effects on their physical and emotional health. Process addictions can include gambling, shopping, sex/love, video games, exercise, tanning, and overeating.

What characteristics are most common with process addictions?

Process addictions share several distinguishing characteristics with drug or alcohol addiction. Like substance abuse, process addictions are characterized by the compulsion to continue engaging in an activity even when mental and/or physical health are negatively impacted. Also, the person of concern is unable to stop engaging in the harmful activity. Often, the person feels temporary relief while partaking in the activity, followed by overwhelming remorse, and denying a problem when confronted by others.

What are the differences between drug or alcohol addiction and process addictions?

As the name “substance abuse” implies, addictions to drugs or alcohol are directly connected to a substance, while process addictions are specific to a behavior. Yet, researchers have found that process addictions often occur in those struggling with drugs or alcohol, or can lead to drug or alcohol addiction if not treated. One of the primary examples of this is gambling addiction—a recent study found additive gamblers 3.8 times more likely to have alcohol addiction.

How do I distinguish between an addiction and a hobby?

It’s easy to joke about a loved one being “addicted” to a certain activity, like video games. However, very serious signs become apparent when someone is struggling with a process addiction:

  1. The person’s mental and/or physical health is negatively impacted by engaging in the activity or an inability to stop, such as increased irritability or sleep deprivation.
  2. The person’s relationships with their friends and family are strained directly from their behavior. Often, their relationships at work are impacted as well.
  3. Negative repercussions directly associated with their continued, extreme, or chronic behavior because of their addiction. This could include losing a job, going bankrupt, or serious illness.
  4. The person is unable to stop engaging in the behavior, despite negative consequences and repeated pleas to discontinue.

When does a hobby become an addiction?

When someone starts showing all of the above characteristics, it’s time to think of their problem as an addiction. For example, many people enjoy playing video games on their TVs, computers, and phones. People who play video games on a regular basis do not have video game addiction. However, if someone is unable to stop playing after days of continuous gaming, becomes combative when asked by loved ones to take a break, or loses their job because all they do is play video games, they might have a process addiction. The same goes with other process addictions as well—if they’re repeatedly crossing a line directly because of their dedication to the activity, no matter the consequences, it’s time to seek help.

At the same time, deciding whether a loved one is struggling with a process addiction should be weighed with how long their addictive behavior is lasting. If someone buys a new video game and spends most of their weekend playing it, they don’t have a process addiction. If they buy a new game and spend all weekend and every night after work for a week playing, they don’t have a process addiction. If they buy a game and are staying up all night, skipping work for days on end, and continuously buying new games even as their bank account drains, they might have a process addiction.

Why are certain behaviors, such as gambling or shopping, linked to process addictions?

This question has puzzled researchers and addiction professionals for years—why do some people become addicted to a behavior, such as gambling, while others do not? Scientists believe a combination of factors, including personality, history of addiction, and genetics, contribute to someone developing a process addiction. At the same time, scientists still grapple with why certain behaviors can lead to addiction while others don’t.

I’m pretty sure my loved one has a process addiction. What can I do?

Treatment for process addictions can be challenging, because often times, abstinence isn’t an option. If someone is addicted to online shopping, they probably won’t be able to stop going online, particularly if their job requires computers. However, recovery is always possible, no matter how serious the situation.

Many of the same methods used for substance addictions work for treating process addictions, often because the two occur together. In-patient or out-patient treatment options provide counseling, individual or group therapy, and other coping methods. In rare instances, certain medications are used, although treatment is usually more successful when focusing around therapy.

At Feinberg Addiction Services, we use a holistic approach when working with those struggling addiction, whether it’s a process addiction or another form. Call us at (877) 538-5425 for a confidential conversation today.




Don’t turn a blind eye to a loved one struggling with substance abuse!

I know all too well how addiction can devastate families and leave good people feeling hopeless. It’s an illness that has the power to destroy lives; it even has the power take lives away from us. My company, Feinberg Addiction Services, has created a program that’s designed to help.

We help individuals and families across the country answer the tough questions that addiction forces us to confront.

  • For families who see the signs of addiction: What should they do?
  • For families in crisis because of addiction: What resources are available?
  • For families with a loved one coming out of treatment: How can they create a “new normal” to help ensure success?

At Feinberg Addiction Services, we believe the key to a successful recovery is managing care throughout each step of the process. I view my work as more of a calling than a job, because I know firsthand what it’s like to battle addiction. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to help families and individuals who may feel they are facing an impossible challenge. But as I have proven, as my family has proven, and as so many others have proven: it is not.

In many families, this time of year is when the challenges of addiction rise to the surface. If you or someone you know can benefit from what I’m doing, I’m available to talk at any time.

Happy New Year,



8 Simple Ways to Celebrate Our Nation’s Veterans

Thank you to all veterans, active duty service members, and their families for their commitment to our country and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis. We honor you!


Balancing Act: Finding Your Footing Between Caregiving and Home Life

CaregiverWhether a caregiver is taking care of an aging family member or hired by a company to provide service to elderly clients, many people who act as a caregiver experience what is known to medical professionals as caregiver burnout. Defined as a negative change in the physical, mental, and emotional health of a caregiver, many of the symptoms of caregiver burnout are similar to depression, including fatigue, anxiety, hopelessness, irritability, and more.

Caregiver burnout can occur for a number of reasons, although it’s mainly attributed to the physical and emotional toll caregiving takes. Often, family members or hired caregivers struggle to cope with unrealistic expectations, like that caregiving will cure a disease or return someone to how they used to be. Although caregiving provides a better quality of life, unfortunately, if the person of concern has a progressive disease like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s, they will not return to their former self.

However, one of the main problems leading to caregiver burnout is a struggle to achieve a balance between caring for someone and a caregiver’s own home life. When there are bills to pay and 9-5 business hours, it can be difficult to coordinate a schedule with work and also provide the right care for the loved one. Finding this balance can revolve around a variety of factors depending on the situation, such as:

  • Meeting with a support group, mental health professional, or a close friend to talk about what you’re going through. Community centers or religious organizations often have groups that meet on a weekly or monthly basis. Additionally, online support groups are a good resource to discuss the challenges of being a caregiver. Talking to someone who knows what you’re going through, or sharing your story with a friend, can truly make a huge difference.
  • Setting aside some time for yourself to do something you enjoy. Go for a walk. Color in an adult coloring book. Spend time with family or friends. Spend some quiet time reading your favorite book. All of these are great ways to de-stress and take the time for yourself that you need.
  • Staying healthy and making sure you take care of yourself. By simply exercising for a short period of time and eating a well-balanced diet, you’ll be able to relieve stress.
  • Educating yourself. Learn what you can about the person’s condition so you can provide the proper care. Also, be realistic about their goals and recovery.
  • Contacting respite care services. Respite care is designed to provide temporary relief to family caregivers while they’re at work, school, or need a break.

If your loved one needs more than just respite care, call Bridgeway Care Management & Home Care. Caregiving can be very overwhelming, and our care managers are skilled to deal with any crisis, illness, or aging concerns. Additionally, we can provide 24-hour professional caregiving for your loved one.

Celebrating a Safe and Sober Halloween


Getting to Know a Team of Addiction Professionals