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Animals are good for our health

April 2013

 

Happy and healthy pet ownerPets are good for us.

Over the years a wide amount of research has been done on mature people keeping pets and the results firmly indicate that keeping pets gives positive benefits.

The main aspect is that they are constant loyal companions offering security and love whatever the circumstances. They offer support in difficult times and amusement in quiet moments. They do not criticise and they boost morale, reducing stress with their constant affection and attention. They also add routine, which can be a big benefit to those newly retired or facing a change in life.

However, often people have had a pet when younger but find as they reach their 50s, 60s or 70s that the idea of taking on a new pet can be daunting.

A major concern is the question of what will happen to the pet if circumstances change; if a person has to move in with relations; has to downsize to accommodation that will not accept or be suitable for pets; or if illness strikes and the pet can no longer be properly looked after.

The RSPCA say a survey undertaken for them show many over 60s are concerned about taking on a pet despite the proven benefits because they are worried about a change in their health. The concerns are highest among those who live alone which is unfortunate because they are the group likely to benefit most, both mentally and physically, from owning a pet.

The good news is that, because the benefits of pet ownership among the over 60s are so strong, more and more is being done to reassure this age group about the future of their pets.

The RSPCA has a service Home for Life,which is designed to give owners peace of mind about future care for their pets should they pass away.

The free service asks owners to register with the Home For Life Scheme and preferably update their will to care for their pets if they haven’t made alternative arrangements for their care already. The RSPCA pledges to do all it can to find a new home for these animals.

“Registering for Home For Life removes the stress and worry about asking a family member to re-home a pet.” says Jo Curtis from the RSPCA.

Pets in RSPCA care are very carefully assessed under the scheme. All new owners are also thoroughly checked for suitability and are ready to adopt and provide a loving home.

“We know that many people would love a pet as a companion in later life and hope that the Home For Life service will encourage many more to take on a pet safe in the knowledge that the RSPCA is there to help,” say’s Jo Curtis. “The RSPCA is also an excellent place for older people to come to find their new pet, especially if they are able to look after a more mature pet.”

Other support in this area is also available.

The Cinnamon Trust is a specialist national charity set up to relieve problems and anxieties faced by older people and their pets. It works in partnership with pet owners and has established a national network of over 15,000 community service volunteers who can be called in to provide practical help when needed. These can cover numerous aspects such as taking a dog for a walk if illness has struck.

They also offer a national fostering service when a pet owner has to go into hospital; volunteers will take the pets into their own homes and offer love and full care until the owner and pet can be together again.

It also offers help in a range of other related areas. For instance it has put together a booklet on pet friendly care homes, a wonderful help for older pet owners whose health is deteriorating.

With interest in pet ownership among the over 60s growing, there is also increasing advice and information available. For instance Dogland has prepared a feature on choosing the right dog for older people.

Pet Place is a website that offers some useful information on best breeds for seniors:
http://www.petplace.com/dogs/top-dog-breeds-for-seniors/page1.aspx

The National Care Line has some information on what happens to a pet if you have to go into a care home later on.

Writer Marion Shoard has written a very good feature on having pets as you get older.

There is lots of information out there and they all seem to confirm that whatever your age, owning a pet could bring joy to your life and also be of real benefit to your health.



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