Parisian author and poet, Anatole France once wrote: “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
The benefits of having a pet and pet therapy have been exhaustively studied for years and the conclusion is simple: pets are good for you, and especially if you are in aged care or receiving in-home care.
The study revealed that pet owners are more able to maintain activities of daily living (ADL) over a one year period than those without pets. One of the key findings was that dogs in particular help keep people active, provide a routine and a reason to get up in the morning (1).
Similar findings came from a Japanese study which investigated the relationship between pet ownership and the level of daily activity (used as a measure of general health) in elderly women living at home.
They found that there was a positive correlation between pet ownership and the level of instrumental activity of daily living (IADL).
The researcher, Professor Saito and the team concluded that it is possible that keeping a companion animal may be linked to better overall health in the elderly(2).
And here in Australia, a study by Patricia Crowley-Robinson, Douglas Fenwick and Judith Blackshaw found that 18 months after acquiring a whippet, residents of three Australian nursing homes had reduced tension and confusion and reported less fatigue(3).
In general, the results of pet therapy have been very positive, revealing many benefits including:
- Decreased blood pressure and stress
- Improved communication and reminiscence
- Many people who are normally unresponsive to other therapies may ‘brighten up’ and ‘chat’ with a pet.
- Pets may motivate and encourage the elderly to stay healthy and exercise, giving them a feeling of being ‘needed’.
- Motor skills may improve with the assistance of an animal trained for pet therapy.
So, the results are in, a pet can be a positive addition to any home, especially one with elderly residents.
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Oxley Home Care provides Dementia Care, Private Care, Home Care, Nursing, Veterans Home Care and Allied Health to enable people to live a quality life independently in their own home and stay connected to their local community.
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- Raina, P, 1995, ‘The impact of pet ownership on the functional transitions among elderly’, 1995, Animals, Health and Quality of Life: 7th International Conference on Human-Animal Interactions, Geneva, September.
- Saito, TM, & Okada, et al, 2001, ‘Relationship between keeping a companion animal and instrumental activity of daily living’ (IADL). A study of Japanese elderly living at home in Satomi Village’, Nippon Koshu Eisei Zasshi, vol. 48, no.1, pp. 47-55.
- Crowley-Robinson, P, Fenwick, DC, & Blackshaw, JK, 1996, ‘A long term study of elderly people in nursing homes with visiting and resident dogs’, Applied Animal Behaviour Science, vol. 47, pp. 137-148.