New Study Confirms What We Already Knew: Pets are Great for the Elderly

The following is an extract of an article provided by Tall Trees Care Communities

One of the biggest factors that makes us different from traditional aged care in the Brisbane or Gold Coast areas is that we not only allow pets but encourage them. Our residents own their homes and are allowed the same privileges and rights as any homeowner. One of those that we support is the right to have pets.

We have read a lot of research over the years indicating that pets have a positive effect on the health of their owners, especially when those owners are older. We have presented summaries of some of that research on our blog from time to time.

Pets are Great for the Elderly

Recently, the International Federation on Ageing released the results of a study in which they compiled research from 1980 to 2013. The research was focussed specifically on “companion animals,” which can encompass anything from pets to animals specifically trained to provide assistance, such as leader dogs for the blind.

The study is entitled, “Measuring the Benefits: Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons.”

Summary of Research and Positive Findings on Physical Health and Pets

A study referenced as “Friedmann et al” from 1980, published in “Public Health Reports” in the USA as “Animal Companions and One-year Survival of Patients after Discharge from a Cardiac Care Unit, found that pet owners under cardiac care lived longer than those who didn’t have pets. This study would inspire similar studies in 1992, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

The study in 1992, referenced as “Anderson et al” and published in the Medical Journal of Australia as “Pet Ownership and Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease,” found that those who owned pets had slightly lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure than those who didn’t have pets.

In 2001, a study referenced as “Allen et al” was published, which was conducted on stockbrokers suffering from hypertension as a randomised control study. It concluded that the blood pressure of those who owned pets was less affected by stress than that of those who didn’t own pets.

A 1999 Canadian study referenced as “Raina et al, 1999” was entitled, “Influence of Companion Animals on the Physical and Psychological Health of Older People: an analysis of a one-year longitudinal study.” It was published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society. This study was important because it found that older adults who had pets had less deterioration of their abilities to perform tasks associated with daily living than those who didn’t own pets.

The study was performed over a one-year period. The study also indicated that dog owners felt their dogs helped them be more active while providing their days with structure and a sense of purpose. It also indicated, along with other studies, that those who own pets tend to have a better state of self-reported health and well-being. Statistically, they don’t visit the doctor as often and spend less money on medications.

In 2012, Rhodes et al performed a study on walkability, entitled “Pilot Study of a Dog-Walking Randomised Intervention: Effects of a focus on canine exercise.” It was published in “Preventative Medicine,” a Canadian publication. The study indicated that those who own dogs are more likely to get their required or recommended amount of exercise than those who don’t own dogs.

Those who became dog owners had an average increase of exercise from 22 minutes a week to 31 minutes per week. While this doesn’t seem like a lot at face value, it does represent an average of nearly a 50% rise in exercise. The results were also influenced by those who became dog owners but didn’t walk their dogs. However, even those who didn’t walk their dogs often had a more positive attitude towards walking after becoming dog owners.

This article is provided by Tall Trees Care Communities – talltrees.net.au