Are pets good for older individuals? In short, yes...
28th April 2016
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As a nation, British people are known as some of the most caring and loving pet owners. According to the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association highly regarded yearly Pet Population report , this year alone over 40% ofUKhouseholds have  a  combined  total  of  around  57  million  pets.  Apparently indoor and outdoor fish are the most popular pets, followed by dogs, cats and a variety of small animals.

These statistics are very encouraging however it does make the results of a survey conducted in 2014 by Stay in my Home  very upsetting. The survey identified that over two million British citizens know an elderly person who has had to put their affectionate pet to sleep when moving into a residential care home.

In the wake of these results, the annual National Pet Month event which  runs  throughout  April,  chose  its  theme  as “Pets and the elderly: enjoying later years together”  in 2015. 

In  an  article  in Vet Times , the organisation’s  chairman  said  that the  aim  of  the  theme  was  to  encourage  people  not  to  overlook the  fact  that  when  an  owner  is  no  longer  able  to  care  for  their beloved pet, they may need help to rehome their pet.

Fortunately,  there  are  many pet friendly retirement and care homes  in  the  UK  which  may  help  avoid  the  needless  trauma  of having to rehome your pet.

There are also many care homes and organisers who can arrange animal therapy experience visits to residents, such as mobile animal zoos and the likes of Rupert Whalley  the 14 hands high horse in Shropshire who is a hit with many and especially with people who have dementia.

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Animal  visits  in  residential  homes  have  been  known  to  reduce  staff  stress  levels  whilst  also  aiding  residents’ relationships, verbalisation skills and treatment results. Such visits also result in people sharing their pet stories and fondly remembering their own experiences with animals.

For  many,  pets  can  be  loyal  companions  for  many  years,  which  is  an invaluable  quality  widely  appreciated  by individuals  as  they  grow  older,  live  alone or  have  little contact  with  family  and  friends.  In  addition  to  the unconditional love and having someone to talk to, the positive physical and psychological wellbeing effects of beinga pet owner can be apparent within a month. Pet owners may feel safer at home, better within themselves as well as have fewer minor colds, coughs and headaches.

Having  a  regular  daily  routine  and  companionship  can  also  help  people improve  self-esteem  and  cope  through depression, isolation and loneliness. For those with fur allergies, a robocat may be the solution –  as part of its Joy for All  range,  toy  maker  Hasbro  has  developed  a  robotic  companion  cat  pet which  has  sensors  to  react  to  interaction and mimic a real cat and is convincingly good at purring.

Another benefit cited by the Pet Health Council is that by watching fish swim or stroking a pet, we are able to relax, which can help to lower blood pressure and reduce heart rates. Furthermore, there are studies whose results prove that pet owners can have a lower risk of heart attack and lower cholesterol. Many dog owners enjoy going out for walks with their pet as it offers a chance for interaction with new people and also  gives  the  owner  a  sensation  of  safety at home. Other  pet  owners  also  have  the  benefit  of  being  able  to  meet with other animal fans at local vets, pet stores and shops as well as share tips and tricks via online forums such as Pet Forums  and Your Pet Forums.

For  those  concerned  about  what  could  happen  to  their  beloved  animal  companion  if  longer  hospital  visits  are needed or there’s a significant change of circumstances, there are a number of voluntary groups that may be able to help such as The Cinnamon Trust  and National Animal Welfare Trust .

The benefits of having a pet will continue to be researched by the likes of the Society for Companion Animal Studies, especially  as  governments  and  local  communities  need  to  create  age-friendly  societies  for  the  growing  over  60’s populations.

Find  out  how  we  can  help  you  live  independently  in  a  safe  environment  by calling  our  friendly  team  on 01323 458137 or submit an enquiry via our online Contact Form . For more information about our services please click here and view our brochure for our full range of personal safety and healthcare solutions.

About National Pet Month

The organisation has been running for 27 years and in addition to raising awareness on pet welfare, the organisation also runs competitions for schools and receives support from fundraisers and various companies. This year the organisation’s focus is on "Responsible Pet Ownership" which includes providing pets with a nutritious diet, socialising and also chimes in with the fact that pets are to be cared for, for the duration of their lives too. According  to  this  month’s Dogs Monthly  magazine, the  British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA)  is supporting the  campaign and is encouraging veterinary professionals and  practices to educate and promote the message through fundraising for UK pet charities and by celebrating improvements in animal welfare.

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