The Health benefits of pet ownership for older people
How pets make great companions for older people and why they bring many health benefits:
Dogs are wonderful creatures the bring with them an enormous sense of friendship and trust. Research shows pet ownership can improve mental and physical health, lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. This can be hugely beneficial not just in daily life, but also in times of stress, loneliness and illness.
According to the RSPCA, older people who regularly walk their dogs tend to walk faster and for longer periods, and have better mobility in their homes.
Fewer sick days
In fact, it is estimated that pet ownership in the UK may reduce use of the NHS to the value of £2.45 billion per year through reduced visits to the doctor. Pet owners report fewer sick days from work, thereby saving employers and businesses stress and money.
Additionally, the Society for Companion Animal Studies highlights research indicating ‘pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decrease in cardiovascular dementia risk and may have some causal role in reducing that risk.’
Interestingly, research also shows a reduction in verbal aggression and anxiety in those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Pet ownership has also been a lifeline for those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
A dog’s friendly presence can provide a real lifeline for those feeling cut off from their community and can help combat social isolation. Furthermore, pets provide companionship and emotional support. Plus, walking the dog offers the chance for physical activity, fresh air and socialising with other pet owners.
Supporting older pet owners
There are often challenges and responsibilities for older people looking after pets, to ensure the pet doesn’t create more worry and stress for the older person and to ensure the welfare of the chosen pet.
Empowering the elderly
For some people, their pet may be the reason they get up in the morning, providing consistency and structure to the day. For the elderly, caring and feeding a pet can foster a sense of empowerment for the older person who often finds themselves in the role of being looked after. A pet can also offer support during times of bereavement.
Our First Aid for Pets first aid courses will further help pet owners of all ages to look after their pet, being ready to help and give first aid for most common medical emergencies.
Written by Emma Hammett RGN of First Aid for Life
First Aid for Pets provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for veterinary advice. The author does not accept any liability or responsibility for any inaccuracies or for any mistreatment or misdiagnosis of any person or animal, however caused. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid for Pets course or take our online course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.