Bringing Seniors a Welcome “Paws” to Their Day

April 14, 2021 12:34 pm

By Chris Chirco

Eileen’s family came to Guardian Community Trust (GCT) after she suffered a debilitating stroke in her late 60’s.  While she was in a rehabilitation facility regaining her strength and preparing to move to a residential facility upon her release, her sister Kathleen was busy making sure that she would be financially secure in her new setting.  They opened a pooled trust account for Eileen with GCT, ensuring that she would continue to have access to her public benefits while also being able to get the things she needed to maintain a higher quality of life.  The pooled trust would also offer her family members more options to define her needs.

Upon arriving at the residential facility, Eileen retreated to her room.  Her memory had declined since the stroke and neuropathy made it difficult for her to get around.  Kathleen reached out to Jayne, their Clinical Relationship Coordinator at Community Trust, to see if she had any advice on how they could use Eileen’s pooled trust funds to improve her quality of life. 

During the discussion, Kathleen mentioned that her sister once had two dogs which she loved dearly.  That was it!  Jayne had learned through team meetings about a pet entertainment program some of the beneficiaries had been using, and suggested Kathleen schedule visits with Golden Moments 4 Elders a couple times a month.  This was exactly the type of service that could offer Eileen more social interaction at her residential home, and funds from her pooled trust could be used to pay for the program. 

Jeff Cohen was a sales representative who provided clothing and casual wear for nursing home residents.  In 2002, Mr. Cohen purchased his first golden retriever puppy, named him Buddy, and began occasionally bring him on his sales calls The nursing home residents were delighted.  Seeing how much joy Buddy brought to the residents, Jeff decided to create a side business working with Buddy on weekends and Golden Moments 4 Elders was born.  

Fast forward to present.   Jeff has created what he calls “pet entertainment” for seniors around Massachusetts.  In 2014, Golden Moments became a full-fledged, family company when Jeff’s wife Sheila and Daughter Jennifer joined the team.  Now the family, along with their three golden retriever pups, Chase (12 years old), Bentley (6 years old) and Myles (3 years old) visit many Massachusetts nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes monthly. They also visit individual clients at home on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis. 

According to Jeff, the main purpose of Golden Moments is to enhance the lives of our elders by bringing them a true “golden moment” with one of their dogs. “When we visit a nursing home or individual, we want to bring joy and entertainment.  The dogs wear holiday-themed costumes and do tricks—the beneficiaries really enjoy that!  Most importantly though, our visits may bring health benefits to the beneficiaries, such as reduced anxiety, lower blood pressure, and decreased feelings of loneliness by offering socialization.” 

For Eileen, visits from Golden Moments have been a wonderful opportunity to reduce her isolation.  A maintenance man at the facility, who is also a dog lover, often joins her for the visits to have some fun with the four legged visitors.  Eileen’s sister Kathleen is happy to know that her sister has an opportunity to interact with others.  “My sister enjoys her visits with Jennifer and the dogs. It gets her talking with the Golden Moments staff, the nursing home staff and other residents, and that’s so important.  She loves to give the dogs treats and to see their happy faces.” 

To learn more about Golden Moments 4 Elders, visit their website www.goldenmoments4elders.com 

*Each beneficiary who opens an account with GCT is assigned a Clinical Relationship Coordinator (CRC) to work closely with them and their family in designing a plan that addresses the beneficiary’s needs, while also maintaining their financial security for the future.  Our CRCs are licensed social workers, who meet each week with our team of Trust Administrators to address specific beneficiary requests and to brainstorm solutions,  drawing on their combined clinical and financial experience.  To learn more about how GCT builds a relationship with each of our beneficiaries, please CLICK HERE.


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