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Seniors Can Benefit From Greater Access To Pets

14 years ago
4863 views

Posted
26th March, 2010 00h00


This Seniors Week, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) wants to ensure seniors can continue to enjoy the health benefits of pets. The AVA is calling for improved access to aged-care facilities by pets and visiting therapeutic animals as part of this NSW Seniors Week, which starts this Sunday (21 March). “Having a pet adds enormous value to the lives of our older citizens, providing companionship, and the potential for social interaction stimulus with neighbours and other community members,” said Australian Veterinary Association President, Dr Mark Lawrie. “There are also many health benefits which may lead them to staying longer in their homes than would otherwise occur,” said Dr Lawrie. Pets can help to motivate and encourage all of us, including seniors, to stay healthy and exercise. “As more and more Australians look forward to a long retirement, ongoing physical and mental health becomes increasingly important, and research has shown that one good way to improve wellbeing into old age is through regular interaction with animals,” said Dr Lawrie. “For instance, the benefit of ‘therapy animals’ to the elderly living in retirement homes, senior centres, day care centres, and hospitals has long been recognised,” he said. Research has shown that the positive impact of pets on the aged is particularly significant for those living in a nursing homes or some form of assisted care. Reported physical health benefits include increased physical motivation and lower cholesterol, but there are also substantial benefits to mental wellbeing from interaction with animals. This research shows that pet ownership may help to protect the elderly from physical and emotional problems – and reveals that pet ownership can protect them from health decline causes by stress factors. ‘Pet Therapy’, also known as Animal Assisted Therapy uses trained animals and their handlers to achieve specific physical, cognitive, social and emotional goals for people and patients requiring care. Animals can be specifically trained to help improve motor skills in patient’s who have been injured, making a major difference to their comfort, progress and recovery.

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