Helping Seniors and Their Pets

Helping Seniors and Their Pets

Two of Alexandria’s service organizations, Senior Services of Alexandria and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA), have developed a unique partnership to help the area’s senior citizens.

Alexandria’s senior population is expected to grow 33 percent by 2030 according to the 2010 census, With 45 percent of the area seniors living at moderate- to low-income levels, it is critical to identify solutions to the various needs of the area’s mature population. Senior Services of Alexandria works with city partners to provide programs and services including Meals on Wheels that allow seniors in the city of Alexandria to age with dignity. The Meals on Wheels program seeks to counter the social isolation many seniors experience and the corresponding problem of malnutrition.

Senior Services of Alexandria is now working with AWLA to expand the program to include food delivery for senior’s pets – a program now known as “AniMeals.” This novel approach leans on research showing how pets play a key role in improving the health of elders. The UCLA Center for Health Policy, for example, found that companion animals can play an important role in keeping individuals healthy and happy. AWLA gathers and stores the donations of pet food and supplies while Senior Services of Alexandria provides the volunteers to transport the items to the seniors.

The two organizations will also co-host a speaker series event on the “Bond of Seniors and Their Pets” on Sept. 10 from 9:30 a.m. until noon at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, 4101 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria. Topics will include Senior Pet Program, Health Benefits of Pets, and Keeping Your Pets Happy. To RSVP for the event or to support “AniMeals,” go to or call 703-836-4414,extension 10 and to learn about AWLA go to


Dan Bernstein is a dog volunteer with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and a driver for Meals on Wheels for Senior Services of Alexandria. He has now combined both of these interests by driving for the AniMeals program too.