Studies have shown that companion animals have the capacity to improve an individuals physical and mental well-being. A study entitled Evolution of Research into the Mutual Benefits of Human-Animal Interaction states that research in the field of human-animal interaction is improving our understanding of the role that pets play in:
– cardiovascular health
– ability to cope with stress
– retaining health and mobility into old age
– alleviating social isolation and building sense of community engagement
– and possibly enhance our immune function
So it seems, pets may be the perfect medicine for a number of issues that face some older adults such as social isolation and poor health. Non-profit organizations like the ones listed below enable older adults to enjoy the benefits of animal contact.
Elderdog Canada not only assists older adults in caring for their dogs but also cares for elder dogs who have lost their human companion.
Therapeutic Paws of Canada provides a ‘volunteer-based pet therapy dog and cat visitation program’. The program involves volunteers and their pets visiting community institutions such as hospitals and long term care homes.
St. John Ambulance’s Therapy Dog Program provides a pet therapy visitation program that ‘brings joy and comfort to the sick, lonely and those in need of a friendly visit’. Regular visits allow the patients to develop a bond with the dog.
Check out the book Betty White’s Pet-Love: How Pet’s Take Care of Us to learn how ‘noted actress and animal lover Betty White draws on personal experience and the studies of leading authorities to show how science has confirmed what pet owners have known instinctively all along – that pets contribute to the health and well-being of their owners’.