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How Pets Contribute to Healthy Ageing

With advances in global public health, people around the world are living longer than ever before. In response to the ageing population, healthcare systems and governments are actively working to manage the expected healthcare costs associated with the ageing process and chronic conditions of older people. The health impact of pets on older people is explored in a new report published by the International Federation on Ageing, through an educational sponsorship from Bayer HealthCare. The report, “Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons,” provides a comprehensive literature review into the ways pets contribute to the physical and mental health of individuals and the well-being of society.

“This field of research has important implications across generations and also for the future of our broader societies,” says Dr. Jane Barratt, International Federation on Ageing. “Many studies have broadly discussed how pets, such as dogs and cats, contribute to health by reducing anxiety, loneliness and depression, but until today have not yet been published in a single resource. This new report advances our understanding of the value of companion animals in the framework of human health and the broader society.”

The therapeutic benefits of companion animals is an area of study attracting increasing interest among health and social science professionals. “Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons,” is a review of the research literature on companion animals and older people from 1980 to 2013, with two goals: to summarize the health, social and economic benefits of companion animals, animal-assisted activities and interventions in the care of older adults as determined through evidence-based research; and to use this unique data to inform future research in the fields of rehabilitation, active ageing and aged care policy and programs at local and national levels.

“The interaction between humans and animals is powerful. Animals can educate, motivate, and enhance the quality of life for people around the world,” says Michael Devoy, Chief Medical Officer, Bayer HealthCare. “Given the scope of this report, we are excited that this research has the ability to reach human healthcare practitioners, veterinarians, doctors, nurses, gerontologists, and social workers.”

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