There is no question that pets are good for our health. They reduce stress and keep us active and engaged. Now doctors are beginning to suggest adoption to some of their patients as a cure for many things — from loneliness to depression.
Researchers at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, University of Montana and The Ohio State University have released new recommendations that highlight potential solutions to overcome both perceived and real barriers to pet ownership relating to seniors in our communitites.
Existing schemes to help older adults include financial help with adoption fees, home delivery of pet food (such as Meals on Wheels for pets) and programs to help look after or rehome pets if adults become unable to care for them. New solutions could include ‘pet-adoption prescriptions’ for older adults affected with grief or isolation, trial adoptions from shelters and guidance on pet species and breed to match the individual’s needs.
“Many older adults would love to spend time with a pet and would benefit greatly from the positive effects the companionship brings, yet they worry about how they can afford or care for a pet,” said Sandra McCune, PhD, Scientific Leader, Human Animal Interaction at Waltham. “In many cases, these barriers are easy to overcome. This new report shines a light on the services that exist, and inspires communities, institutions and policymakers to find new and innovative solutions. We envision a future in which fostering human-animal bonds is no longer seen as alternative care, but a standard of care.”
To learn more about the ebenfits of pet ownership, visit HABRI — the Human Animal Bond Research Insitute.