Imagine being too elderly and/or ill to properly care for your companion animal. You need your beloved pet more than ever as you battle health issues — and perhaps loneliness, too. Sadly, this is all too common for people in nursing homes, hospitals, and hospice. Feeding, walking, litter sifting, and trips to the vet are beyond their scope of physical abilities.

Fortunately, organizations around the country have mobilized to ensure the elderly and ill can continue living with their beloved animals and benefit from the comfort and love that they provide. Some of these groups also find homes for the animals later on, to protect them from winding up at shelters where they are in danger of being euthanized.

One such organization is Sam’s Hope in Pennsylvania, which provides food for pets of the elderly. Recognizing that older people live on a fixed income and may have to choose between feeding themselves or their pets, Sam’s Hope delivers pet food to those who can’t afford to buy it on their own. The group’s mission is to help people keep their pets, because having an animal around makes a person less lonely and depressed, and gives them a sense of purpose. They even benefit from lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.

PACT For Animals, also in Pennsylvania, finds foster homes for pets when their owners are unable to take care of them. They also provide this service for deployed military personnel. The owners are given updates, videos, and photos so they can see their fur babies happy and safe.

Pet Peace Of Mind, based in Oregon, has established a network of participating hospices around the country that ensure terminally ill pet parents can continue to live with their animals until they pass away. Volunteers help care for the pets, and also find home for the animals when the owners pass.

Some Meals On Wheels chapters deliver dog and cat food, and even treats, along with human meals. This service is available to elderly, low income, and disabled people. Meals on Wheels realized that people were giving their pets a lot of the human food brought to them because they couldn’t afford to purchase pet food. They partnered with a multitude of pet organizations that solicit donated foods. Now the recipients consume their own nutrients and their pets are well fed, too.

Helping Seniors Keep Pets is another wonderful group helping the elderly keep their pooches and kitties. Located in Texas, they help with veterinary bills, grooming and boarding when a senior needs to be hospitalized, and also provide food.

Florida’s Seniors For Pets is another non-profit devoted to paying veterinarian bills. They are devoted to keeping elderly people with their pups to maintain their quality of life.

In New York City, JASA’S Pets Project helps elderly New Yorkers care for their pets. Volunteers walk dogs, change litter boxes, feed the animals, and play with them. This program of Jewish Association for Services for the Aged was established in 1997 to help pet owners with illnesses, physical limitations, and low incomes.

Arizona’s Pets For The Elderly raises funds to pay adoption fees, spaying and neutering costs, and vet exams. They believe that all older people who want a companion animal should have one because pets enhance our lives and fill us with joy.

As Baby Boomers age and the United States’ elderly population increases, more and more seniors will require help caring for their pets. These fantastic groups help to maintain the happiness of both people and animals while decreasing the number of pet surrenders to shelters.