Pets and the elderly is an issue that is often mentioned when discussing the wellbeing of older people and it was great to see so many organisations and Members coming together in Parliament to champion the benefits of companion animals to older people’s lives. Thank you NOAH for chosing this as this year’s theme!
Tracey said ” As a Co-Chair of the APPG for Dementia we are constantly searching for how to improve the lives of people with Dementia given the current lack of a clinical remedy. At the APPG we believe that we must focus on and champion the positive impacts of non-clinical interventions, the things we can do to improve wellbeing and slow the progress of the disease. Pets are a wonderful example of non-clinical care that can have truly profound positive effects on the lives of older people. Evidence suggests that petting animals can be very beneficial to the wellbeing of people with dementia, as well as a great alternative to antipsychotics to help with distress.
Pets are also a great tool in tackling loneliness and isolation of older people, working with the campaign against loneliness a survey told us that 65% of older people said television was their main form of company, and we know that loneliness is as detrimental to an older person’s health as 15 cigarettes a day.
Care homes allowing already owned pets to enter with an individual can also provide a companionship that can be extremely calming and reassuring. I wrote to all the care homes in my constituency to ask what their pet policy was, and I was shocked to learn that only 2 had a pet policy, and one of these was that pets were not allowed, in many care homes it seems it simply depends who you ask.
A very interesting report published this month by the Live-In Homecare Information Hub has found that over 2 million people in Britain say they know an elderly person who had to have their cat or dog put to sleep because they were moving to a residential care home. With my other hat of Chair of the Pet Advisory Committee, I believe that with the benefits that these pets bring to these people’s lives, health and wellbeing there is no excuse for this.”