In the “What will they think of next” column, place life-like cats and
dogs - mechanical pets being distributed by the Michigan Elder Justice
Initiative’s Michigan Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. The
faux felines and canines are meant to provide comfort to seniors in
nursing homes and adult foster homes, to combat the additional social
isolation and loneliness brought on by COVID-19.
Facilities participating in the program will focus on residents living with
dementia and those with cognitive decline, because they are deemed
most apt to embrace a pet.
“I love the idea that the dog is interactive and talks back and that the
cat purrs and, depending on which sensory spot you pet, it rolls over,”
says Salli Pung, the Michigan State long-term care ombudsman.
“That interaction has got to help people make a real connection and
feel like they have a companion there. Relationships are what are so
important to everyone in life, to feel needed and wanted. I think that is
what these pets can offer.”