According to Age UK, there are over 11 million people in the UK over the age of 65. Half of these people have reported that their beloved pet or the television is their main source of companionship - with 1 out of every 8 people saying their pet brings them most of their daily support and comfort.
Pets bring many benefits to the elderly including therapy, companionship, and both physical and mental health benefits. We would like to explore the topic of pets as therapy for elderly people.
Many doctors and psychologists believe that domesticated animals such as dogs, cats, and even rabbits can bring therapy to elderly by easing the effects of age-related health conditions. Pets are helpful in assisting the elderly with loss of a loved one, or a situation which can cause depression and anxiety. Pets can also ease the effects of dementia and Alzheimer's by providing comfort, and dogs can serve as assistants (such as Dementia Dogs) and provide medication prompts, help with shopping, and safety at home.
Research has proven that pets have calming properties and stroking an animal can reduce blood pressure and release endorphins, the chemical which lifts our mood.
Pets such as dogs and cats have been proven to be more effective to provide pet therapy for the elderly, especially when it comes to physical and mental conditions. Studies have shown positive results for elderly people recovering from a heart attack after adopting an animal, and those living with cats have been reported to have 40% less chance of having a heart attack. People who own cats and dogs are thought to have stronger immune systems as they're exposed to more allergens released by the animals fur. This also goes for children - those children brought up in a house with animals are less likely to develop allergies, lung problems, and have reported less sickness that those who grow up in homes without animals.
Here is a list of some associations which help match elderly with the right pet for them:
Dementia Dog: Dementia Dog Project brings trained assistant dogs to help people in the community and in their home
Pets As Therapy: PAT enhance health and wellbeing in the community through the visits of trusted volunteers with their behaviourally assessed animals. They provide a visiting service in hospitals, hospices, nursing and care homes, special needs schools and a variety of other venues all across the UK.
Canine Partners: Canine partners provide practical day to day assistance for people with physical disabilities with tasks that may be difficult to perform. They also provide increased confidence, independence and social interaction.
Dog A.I.D: Empowers their clients to train their own pet dog to assist them with daily tasks – tailored to the individual.
Dogs For Good: Assistance dogs support adults (age 17+) and children (age 7 – 16) with a range of disabilities and also children with autism (age 3 – 10). They train and support community dogs and their specialist handlers to work in activity and therapy in communities and schools.
Guide Dogs: Guide dogs for adults and young people who are blind or partially sighted. Qualified guide dogs wear a white harness with yellow fluorescent strips.
Hearing Dogs For Deaf People: Hearing dogs for adults with a hearing impairment (aged 17+) and hearing dogs for children with a hearing impairment (ages 7-12). Qualified hearing dogs wear a burgundy jacket.
Medical Detection Dogs: Their aim is to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human disease.
Support Dogs: Support Dogs is a national charity (Mainland UK) dedicated to increasing independence and quality of life for people with various medical conditions.
The Seeing Dogs Alliance: Training dogs to guide blind and partially sighted people.
Pets For The Elderly: Companionship to senior individuals through pet ownership, while saving the lives of companion animals in shelters.
Whilst having pets brings many benefits to the elderly, it can be tough to look after them if your animal is an Emotional Support Animal; or when your assistance dog cannot provide you with all the assistance you need. Our Live-in Carers are happy to help you look after your pets and work with them to bring you independence and the highest quality of life possible. To find out more about Live-in Care call our specialist team on 0800 980 3958 or email firstname.lastname@example.org