Blog

Savor the Holidays!

By Tim Johnson
December 2020

2020 has been an unpredictable year! It is widely agreed that the best thing we can do is look ahead. Yet, deep in this holiday season are treasures! We are reminded of key traditions and activities that we hold dear to our hearts. While some ways of celebrating may look a little different this year, it doesn’t mean we still can’t enjoy our favorite traditions.

It’s the little things that can get us excited about the season. For me, it is things like bundling up for chilly walks, slipping between warm flannel sheets or binge-watching every holiday movie ever made! Some of us appreciate a cool glass of eggnog and others may choose to drink delicious hot apple cider. Mulled wine, a cup of hot chocolate, and sweet baked goods are little treats we can all enjoy.

Viewing Christmas lights decorating our neighbors’ houses, lighting the candles during the eight days of Hanukkah, or enjoying the seven days of Kwanzaa that celebrate family, community and culture - all are all rich traditions we can share.

Let’s not forget the Holiday music! I’m one of those guys who have been listening to Holiday music every day since November 1st!!!

For those of you who have a custom of visiting The Lake Merritt to take a picture in front of our iconic Christmas tree, or like to enjoy an Elf Mimosa in the Terrace Room, we look forward to opening our doors again next year. In the meantime, here are a couple of pictures of our community’s 2020 décor for you to enjoy!

Remember, focusing on friendship and family and the little sensual pleasures of this time of year, and maintaining a positive attitude will help ensure a great holiday season.

Happy Holidays from all of us at The Lake Merritt.

 



 

If You Gotta Wear a Mask… Why Not Be Fashionable?

By Tim Johnson
December 2020

The other day I was chatting with Judy, one of the residents at The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Community. She was wearing a light blue mask with peaches on it. I said to her, “I don’t think I have ever seen that mask before. It’s very nice!” Her eyes lit up and she said, “It’s new. I now have six double-sided masks. That means I now have twelve different looks to select from!”

Last week another resident, Faye, walked by. She was wearing a black mask with white polka dots, a white blouse with black polka dots, a black cardigan sweater and black slacks. Her black and white earrings matched her necklace and set off the outfit perfectly - pure class. I told her so! Her response was, “A fashionable lady knows how to color coordinate!”

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) regularly updates its website with ways to help prevent COVID-19. While it has long been suggested mask-wearing primarily protects the “other person,” in the CDC’s scientific brief updated last week on November 10, 2020, the organization cites studies that demonstrate that cloth mask materials can also reduce the wearers’ exposure to infectious droplets through filtration, including filtration of fine droplets.

It’s common knowledge nobody likes or really wants to wear a mask all the time but the science is clear: Mask wearing helps save lives. Since it is likely we will be wearing masks for some time to come, why not look at some fashionable masks that show your personality. That is exactly what the staff at The Lake Merritt decided to do. As it turns out - it’s fun!

As a pet lover Stephanie was happy to find a line of masks that pay tribute to our furry friends. The fact that the paw print is made from rhinestones makes it all the better. Who doesn’t like a little bling?

Krasaundra said, “Wearing a more fashionable mask made me feel good. After the residents started complimenting me the idea became fun. It challenged me to up my game!” She has several different masks but one of her favorites is this elegant black mask trimmed with pearls.

Ryan likes his cat mask because he enjoys “just the right amount of zany on my face.” He likes things that are fun.

Why the sparkles? Ernestine wears masks that glitter and sparkle because they match her personality!

Candi is wearing an “Alice in Wonderland” mask that she designed and made herself. She saw the need for masks early on and began making them for friends and family. Residents noticed her beautiful creations and have been asking Candi to make masks for them as well.

Fashion has always had a way of taking our wardrobe essentials and turning them into statement pieces. It's no surprise then, that the protective face coverings we've been advised to wear to curb the spread of the coronavirus have quickly been embraced and beautified by the fashion world. Since you’re going to wear one anyway, why not join with the residents and staff of The Lake Merritt and consider something with a bit of pizzazz? You’ll have fun doing it!

 



 

Lake Merritt - Beneath the Surface

By Tim Johnson
November 2020

I am thrilled to announce that The Lake Merritt has secured a very coveted speaker for our Topics of Merritt program on Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. Damon Tighe, a Naturalist at the California Center for Natural History and Biotechnology, and Educator at Bio-Rad Laboratories, will present a free Zoom program for us, which is open to all. Based in Oakland, Tighe has become acclaimed for his work documenting the spectacular marine organisms thriving beneath the surface of Lake Merritt. His dramatic underwater photographs and compelling stories reveal the history of these stunning life forms, many from around the world, who have found a home in Lake Merritt.

Did you know that Lake Merritt is not a man-made lake, but a tidal lagoon that formed 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic era? At that time, rising sea levels carried water from the Pacific Ocean inland and a tidal lagoon formed in what is now Downtown Oakland. The lagoon was connected to the bay by a large rivulet that carried a steady stream of saltwater and wildlife inland from the ocean. Fresh water from winter rains runs down our hills through many creeks and into the lake creating a mixed brackish environment suitable for many marine creatures then and now.

Over the decades, Oakland resident, Damon Tighe has kept a watchful eye on the creatures living in the lake. After getting reports over several years in a row from boaters on the lake concerning a beautiful soft blue glow around their oars at night, Tighe investigated. His research resulted in a very compelling article (“Why Is Lake Merritt Turning Blue at Night?”) for Bay Nature magazine explaining the phenomenon.

Here’s what Tighe’s research discovered: During the summer months when the creeks run dry, the salinity of our lake’s water rises to become much more like that of the Bay. Coinciding with this change in salinity, a bloom in marine organisms begins in the shallow warm waters. By late summer and early fall, the microscopic organisms responsible for the blue glow, plankton called dinoflagellates, erupt and multiply.

After reading an article about Tighe in The Oaklandside this past July, I was intrigued by some of the other discoveries Tighe has made and his process for doing so. The citizen scientist knows the lake and its environs well. He steps around picnickers, turns over rocks on the shore, and even wades through the water, his eyes alert for the smallest marine critters. To date, more than 600 species have been identified at Lake Merritt, including non-native life forms and some that are so unique that they have not been found anywhere else on Earth.

The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Community sits directly across from the lake. I have spent many an hour walking along the lake noticing the plants and wildlife, but never imagined what was under the water! To hear more, we invited Damon Tighe to present a program for us. You’re invited to learn about what’s going on under the surface and the ever-changing ecology of our beloved Lake Merritt.

 



 

Does Bone Health Really Matter?

By Tim Johnson
September 2020

When I think of the word “skeleton” I often imagine something creepy - like a Halloween decoration eerily perched on someone’s front porch. Why am I thinking about skeletons you ask? The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living is hosting a free educational webinar next month about bone health and I realized this is a topic I do not know a lot about. So, I decided to do a little research!

Did you know our skeleton is an active organ? It’s made up of tissue and cells in a continual state of activity throughout a lifetime. Just like any other organ or tissue, bones need to be maintained. Not only do our bones support us and allow us to move, but they also protect our brain, heart, and other organs from injury. Our bones also store minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and release them into the body when we need them for other uses.

Every day our body breaks down old bone and puts new bone in its place. Yet, as we get older it is normal to lose some bone as we age. Many people have weak bones and don’t even know it. That’s because bone loss often happens over a long period of time and doesn’t hurt. For many people, a broken bone is the first sign that they have osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become porous. People with osteoporosis most often break bones in the wrist, spine, and hip.

The good news is that it is never too late to take care of your bones.

According to the National Institute of Health’s Osteoporosis National Resource Center, there are lots of things you can do to keep your bones healthy and strong. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, getting plenty of exercise and leading a healthy lifestyle all contribute to your bone “bank account” in a positive way.

There are certain risk factors you can control that can help promote healthy bones. These include a healthy diet and physical activity, as I mentioned before. Body weight is a risk factor because being too thin can lead to osteoporosis. Smoking cigarettes can keep your body from using the calcium in your diet. People who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to get osteoporosis. In July of this year Dr. Timothy Bhattacharyya, a researcher with the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, released the results of a 40-year study that found an association between lowered rates of hip fractures and decreases in smoking and heavy drinking.

Plus, there are the risk factors you can’t control that can predispose one to osteoporosis such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history.

If I have confused you or caused any undue worry, then you will want to join us October 22, 2020 at 11:00a.m. for our free Zoom program, Freedom From Fractures. The national organization, American Bone Health will lead our presentation and teach us how to build and keep strong and healthy bones for life with practical and up-to-date resources.. The program will help you better understand more about your skeleton, so you can know your risk and do something about it. To reserve your space please RSVP by calling 510-903-3600.

 



 

Food For Thought

By Tim Johnson
August 2020

I recently came across an article in a professional trade magazine, published in May of this year, which discussed fighting coronavirus with food. Their position is that proper nutrition can help you fight the coronavirus. Eating healthy helps you fight all diseases more effectively – not just COVID-19. It improves your mood and energy level, and reduces anxiety and depression. Every little bit of healthy eating helps your body fight disease more effectively.

According to the World Health Organization, eating a healthy diet is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic. What we eat and drink can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections. While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent or cure COVID-19 infection, healthy diets are important for supporting immune systems. Good nutrition can also reduce the likelihood of developing other health problems, including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.

This got me thinking how fortunate we are here at the Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Community. First of all, we have an amazing executive chef, Michael Cook. For 18 years, Cook was the executive chef at the very popular and trendy restaurant À Côté in Oakland’s Rockridge district.

For his part, Cook has embraced his role at The Lake Merritt. His philosophy is to incorporate, whenever possible, local and regionally grown foods. He is extremely conscientious about the nutritional needs of our population. Cook said, “I love cooking for the residents and they must love it too because they keep coming back for more!”

Not only do we have delicious food, we also have in our possession one of Oakland’s best kept secrets. The Terrace Room is known to many as a little gem, tucked inside our community with its panoramic views of Lake Merritt. In the 1930s and 1940s the Terrace Room was the city’s trendy hot spot, featuring great cocktails and dining along with dancing and Big Bands, including the famed Count Basie.

I mention The Terrace Room because it has been beneficial in helping us fight off social isolation. During this pandemic we have been following CDC recommendations, including wearing masks and social distancing. However, it is important to remember that mental health also cannot be overlooked. Such a “Catch-22,” but that’s where our “little” gem comes in.

The Terrace Room is over 4,000 square feet! It has high ceilings, great ventilation and windows that open directly onto the lake. It can seat 300 people! Because of this large space we are able to spread the dining tables out and distance them eight feet apart. Thus, we have created seating for all our residents who can dine at a distance from each other and yet they are still able to socialize. This beautiful restaurant allows us to meet the nutritional needs of our residents as well as allowing us to maintain socialization (with social distancing) that helps them stay emotionally, mentally and physically strong.

We look forward to the day when we can once again invite guests to join us in this lovely and historic restaurant. Until that time, everyone is grateful to have the opportunity to live here at The Lake Merritt where the food is delicious and residents don’t have to worry about feeling isolated.

 



 

Easy Walking Trails in Oakland – Our Secret Spots

By Tim Johnson
July 2020

There aren't many major cities where you can drive from the grocery store to the middle of a redwood forest in five to ten minutes, but here’s a little secret: You can in Oakland! Residents of The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living have been exploring our wonderful local parks in a safe and distanced way. The City of Oakland boasts nearly 6,000 acres of parks and trails, many of which connect to larger park networks. The East Bay Regional Parks features nearly 125,000 acres and has a very good website that is continuously updated with COVID-related closures and other information. We also use alltrails.com to search for easy hikes and read user reviews about trail width and busyness. You could walk for days without retracing your steps!

Recently, our residents enjoyed a great presentation by Stan Dodson, the founder of Oakland Trails (oaklandtrails.org) as part of our weekly public speaker series, “Topics of Merritt.” (This and our other Zoom programs are free and available to the public, so call us or register online). Dodson knows his local trails! He is a recipient of the Parkland Steward Award from Oakland Public Works, and the Anne Woodell Community Award, Oakland’s highest honor for community service in parks.

Dodson recommends visiting Oakland's gorgeous parks in the afternoon on weekdays to avoid crowds. He also recommended some easy and accessible trails within the Oakland City Parks system just for us.

On the Eastern side of Joaquin Miller Park there is a nearly flat maintenance road that can be accessed from a parking pullout on Skyline Boulevard near the Big Trees Trailhead. This road takes you through the redwood forest toward the Sequoia Horse Arena. This trail is wheelchair accessible and peaceful. Also within the nearby Sausal Creek watershed, Dodson recommends entering the Dimond Canyon Trail at El Centro Avenue. There you will find a flat, wide trail that attracts families and is suitable for nearly all abilities.

In addition to these spots, The Lake Merritt residents have several favorites to share with you. David particularly likes the Montclair Railroad Trail, the steepest part of which is a gentle ramp to get onto the trail (behind the Montclair Parking Garage). David says “the trail is not too crowded. It's very wide and paved and it’s flat. I could do one of those walks every day.”

Another series of trails we’ve visited more than once are in Redwood Regional Park. This gorgeous woodland features wide, paved trails, as well as an impressive network of dirt paths. We usually enter through Redwood Gate and explore the Stream Trail. Our resident Jusy says "there are times when I come back from our nature walks feeling almost ecstatic."

If you’d like to do even more research on area walks and trails you can view Dodson’s two short films through Oakland Trails. This all-volunteer organization is dedicated to promoting, maintaining and enhancing the City of Oakland’s wildland parks and trails. Trailhead is Dodson’s first film. It provides an overview of Oakland’s largest wildland trail system that connects neighborhoods to redwood forests. Old Survivor, Dodson’s second film, highlights the only remaining old-growth redwood tree in the East Bay hills and tells the story of Oakland’s resilient, ecologically amazing and now-protected redwood forest. Both documentaries can be viewed for free and are found at oaklandtrails.org.

It is possible for older adults and families to enjoy easy and immersive nature walks in Oakland. They are food for the soul. Get out and enjoy the rest of the summer.

 



 

Fresh Air Again!

By Tim Johnson
June 2020

We’re all very glad to be able to get out of the house! Due to the nature of the Covid-19 virus, we have been living in confined spaces due to the “shelter in place” limits since mid-March. Our governor and local officials are carefully easing restrictions. At our community, we’ve learned to take the proper precautions for our health and at the same time start to get some essential physical activity and breathe some fresh air again!

Those living at The Lake Merritt – Independent Senior Living are starting to venture out a little bit more. Yet, we are cautious. Our residents have been going on outings in small groups with a focus on locations where we can take nature walks and also take advantage of Oakland’s newly-launched “Slow Streets” program. The new program is designed to make a difference for everyone who wants to walk in our City for exercise and at the same time experience safe physical distancing. The innovation is that it takes advantage of the current lack of traffic on many of our urban streets.

Oakland is hailed by many as a walker’s paradise. Our community’s location in the National Walk Score database, which is a measure of the most walkable cities in America, ranks us at an impressive 96 out of 100.

With so many Oaklanders enjoying the lake, one our walking group members told me “right now, we are finding roads less travelled.” Just last week our resident Pat became happier because the City of Oakland closed 20 miles of streets to through traffic using soft barriers. Physically-distant activities (at least six feet of space apart from each other) including walking, wheelchair rolling, jogging and biking across the City are nearby for urban residents. Just two blocks away, the beautiful, leafy Alice Street is now designated a Slow Street.

In addition, the residents are taking walks that have flat trails, beauty and other interesting features. Our resident Dave is enthusiastic, “We go for walks in the middle of the week.” He added, “the Montclair Railroad Trail is not too crowded. It’s very wide and is paved and flat. I could do one of those walks every day as long as there are trees!" Another resident added, “There are times when I come back (from the nature walks) feeling almost ecstatic."

Our resident Judy said that she loves walking on a trail somewhere in nature. The Bridgeview Trail walk was “marvelous!” and yet she added that “walking around our neighborhood right after sunset seems to be a very good, quiet time.” We recently did a Temescal/Rockridge area Slow Streets walk. Pat continued, "We saw all the spring flowers with interesting gardens. We particularly enjoyed a garden filled with toy dinosaurs! In general, Oakland residents have been very aware of us as a small group of older adults and made a point to keep their distance,” she concluded.

As national publications, health departments and official studies begin to offer advice about how to reopen our country safely, we are actively participating. We are wearing our masks, practicing safe distancing and also enjoying spring and building our health and well-being at the same time. Oakland’s beautiful nature areas and Slow Streets, give us a chance to see each other, walk together and to finally get some fresh air!

 



 

Our ESL Program Zooms Along

By Tim Johnson
June 2020

If you were to visit The Lake Merritt on a Friday morning, (prior to COVID-19 and sheltering in place), you would see students from Laney College improving their conversational English-speaking skills with an unlikely group of volunteers: the residents of The Lake Merritt – Independent Senior Living.

Our community is located just blocks from this college campus and in the past, we welcomed five to twenty students into our building. The students arrived each week and practiced their conversational skills as part of Laney’s ESL (English as a Second Language) program. While conversing with our residents they gained extra practice and personal assistance while learning English.

The Lake Merritt’s Program Director, Ryan Wilcox, set up the ESL program at the community more than five years ago. The program partners adult students who are just learning English with our resident volunteers for one-on-one conversations.

“It has been a great way for our residents to feel like they are helping the community,” Wilcox said. “Plus, the social interaction brings our residents a lot of joy. They feel that they can make a real contribution to the every-day lives of these students.”

Our participation in the Laney ESL program stopped abruptly in March when the Coronavirus struck, leaving a small vacuum in both the lives of the residents and the students they were helping. Wilcox thought that since our community was offering exercise classes and other presentations over the video conferencing platform Zoom, why not reboot the ESL program? Today, each resident is the host for their own conversational meeting via the internet. There are also a number of benefits for residents as they get more familiar with the web and using Zoom technology,” Wilcox said.

"Zoom came along at the ideal moment for the ESL program while we’ve been sheltering in place," said Meghan, a resident who has been providing English tutoring for the past 40 years. “Working with these ESL students on the split screen, where we can see each other and interact in realtime is the kind of civic work that I really enjoy. I love teaching English and helping others get more confident in their communication skills.”

Wilcox concurs. “Many of the ESL students are recent immigrants to the U.S. and few of them speak English outside the school setting. Especially during the pandemic, their opportunities to practice their English are very few. Our residents are providing some students with the only chance they get all week to speak English with a native speaker.”

Judy has been a resident for four and a half years and has been participating in the Lake Merritt’s ESL volunteer program since she moved in. “I’m very happy that we're able to carry on with the program using Zoom. Otherwise, with the current restrictions, we couldn't continue and these are great students...they're so motivated!”

Volunteering is rewarding. It makes you feel like you are accomplishing something and that you are giving back while helping people. A 2003 study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on “The Effects of Volunteering on the Well-Being of Older Adults” showed that older adults who volunteer report higher levels of well-being. Our resident Gloria added, “It’s a great way to help. Yes, it’s more difficult when you are not meeting in person, face to face, but it's necessary.”

In the isolated environment we are currently living in, we all need to find ways to connect with other people. Wilcox’s plan to reinvigorate his already popular program via Zoom is an innovation for us and a welcome hit with both residents and ESL students.

 



 

We’re Bored Now!

By Tim Johnson
April 2020

We humans are generally a social species, so during these times of “shelter-in-place” we need to discover new ways to avoid isolation. For the residents of The Lake Merritt - Independent Senior Living community, walking down by the lake and keeping a six-foot distance seems to work. Waving at people, blowing kisses and “air hugs” can be nice too, but we need more.

Our program director, Ryan Wilcox has tapped into the “Zoom craze,” and our Thursday afternoon speaker series, Topics of Merritt is now open to everyone outside of our residential community! Topics from each live event range from guest speakers on “Broadway’s Legendary Lyricists” to “Stress Reduction Using Eastern Movement Traditions.” If you would like to tune in via Zoom, just email info@thelakemerrittsenior.com and ask to be put on our mailing list. We will send you the information for you to join in!

Because of this pandemic, performing arts venues and museums have been temporarily shut down leaving a cultural vacuum. The silver lining is that many of these venues have been finding ways to share their work digitally. Performances are being live-streamed, archival material is being rediscovered, and broadcast and social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook are being transformed into makeshift stages and concert halls. If you are stuck at home and yearning for the performing arts, there is plenty online.

Nightly Metropolitan Opera Streams:
Every day the Met brightens our lives with a different encore presentation available for free through the end of April.
https://www.metopera.org/user-information/nightly-met-opera-streams/

Great Theater, Dance and Classical Music:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/20/arts/theater-dance-classical-art-stay-home-virus.html?referringSource=articleShare

YouTube has a plethora of recorded full-length musicals from Broadway and regional theater companies. Plus, there is no shortage of concerts from your favorite recording stars as well.

Here are a few to get you started:

My Favorite Broadway: The Leading Ladies - Full Concert - 1998 Carnegie Hall
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlBM1ZUBGBg

“Les Miserables” - 10th Anniversary Dream Cast in Concert
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oqa49h4HWgg

“Phantom of the Opera” - 2017
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mREzIBmOpBY

Live webcams are great and will keep you entertained for hours at a time!

We are big fans of the Cal Falcons Web Cams! Starting in 2016 a pair of peregrine falcons, the worlds fastest birds, found a unique nesting spot on the top of the historic Campanile on the UC Berkeley campus. The pair returned again for the spring nesting season and three eggs just hatched successfully. The young chics, now covered in fluffy feathers made their debut last week. Follow their journey which features three webcams at https://calfalcons.berkeley.edu/webcams/?fbclid=IwAR36ncsC_EbCstcoEN5sTjoybf0rXVssyb678NGRFKbG4UntAJlen_DAS_g

Other terrific cameras featuring birds are
Eagle Bird Cam: http://www.decoraheaglecamalerts.com/video.htm
Redtail Hawk: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/red-tailed-hawks/
Monterey Bay Aquarium: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams

Are you missing out on your annual pilgrimage to Yosemite? Did your trip to the Pyramids get postponed? Was this the year you were planning to go to the British Museum in London? No need to fret. Your computer will help you explore some of the world’s most beautiful sights and amazing landmarks right from the comfort of your couch. Go to Google and type into the search bar “Google Treks” or “Virtual Landmark Tours” and fasten your seatbelt!

We are being told that “there is a light at the end of the tunnel” and we know we will eventually get through these abnormal times. Yet, it’s nice to know there are art, culture and worlds to explore right at your fingertips! Stay safe and be well.

 

 



 

Pets are the Best

By Tim Johnson
March 2020

For me there is nothing better than walking in the front door at the end of my day and being greeted by my pets. My dog Karl-Riley brings me one of his toys and he makes me believe that I am the only one who has been on his mind all day long. My cat Lily sits on the table calling out to me to be noticed until I provide the required scratching under her chin she seeks. Nothing compares to the joy of coming home to loyal companions.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) the unconditional love of a pet can do more than keep you company. Pets may also decrease stress, improve heart health and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that pets can reduce loneliness and depression, increase feelings of social support and boost your mood.

The NIH is funding large-scale surveys to find out about how people’s relationships with their pets affect their health.. “We’re trying to tap into the subjective quality of the relationship with the animal - that part of the bond that people feel with animals - and how that translates into health benefits,” explains Dr. James Griffin, an expert at NIH.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) states there are many health benefits of owning a pet including increased opportunities to get outside and exercise.

At The Lake Merritt – Independent Senior Living we welcome residents and their pets into our community. With National Walk Score of 97, walking around our neighborhood and the lake makes this the perfect place to live. Our residents with pets concur!Pam is the owner Hudson, a nine year old labradoodle. He is the star of The Lake Merritt’s current television commercials. Pam has had Hudson since he was a puppy and their love for each other is boundless. She told me regardless of how her day is going Hudson is always there to brighten her spirits. Pam admitted that Hudson “inspires exercise” because of his four walks per day. “He gets me up and out for our walks and that’s a good thing!”

Phyllis adopted Honey six years ago from the SPCA. While she definitely appreciates the physical fitness walks she gets with Honey, she considers Honey her “emotional support” dog. “She is a constant companion to me and has the ability to improve my mood with a wag of her tail,” Phyllis said. “It’s a pleasure watching her interact with and get pets from other residents. Everyone loves her!”

Sally is Laura’s 15-year-old cat. “I talk to her and she listens,” Laura said. “When I am upset she notices and she jumps into my lap and purrs. She makes me happy. As an added bonus she sleeps at the foot and my bed and keeps my feet warm at night!”

Harry rules the roost in Pete and Madeline's home. “We adopted Harry from Berkeley Rescue five years ago because we decided there was room in our hearts for another ‘kid,’” Pete said. Harry is very persuasive, though not demanding. When he wants treats he goes directly to the cupboard and scratches at the door. We call him our exercise guru because he forces us to take him on walks four times a day. We often take him on long nature walks with us. When he’s had enough walking, Harry uses his gift of persuasion to get picked up and carried for awhile. Just like a kid!”

In today’s climate when seniors are being “encouraged” to refrain from attending group gatherings, pets not only get you outside for fresh air and sunshine, they can be a wonderful emotional support.