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Our Ageing Population: Millions Could Benefit from Owning a Pet

25 September 2014

ANALYSIS - We are constantly reminded that we are living longer and that changes must be made to sustain a good quality of life into our senior years, writes Gemma Hyland.

A new report investigates how dogs and cats may contribute to physical, mental and societal well-being, in our ageing global population.

Published by the International Federation on Ageing, through an educational sponsorship from Bayer HealthCare, the report, “Companion Animals and the Health of Older Persons,” provides a comprehensive review into the ways pets contribute to the physical and mental health of individuals and the well-being of our broader society and suggests more research into companion animals and their effects on human health which could have a significant impact on human life.

catWith advances in global public disease prevention, people are living longer than ever before. In response to the ageing population, healthcare systems and governments are actively working to manage the expected healthcare costs associated with the ageing process and chronic long-term conditions that affect older people.

Commenting on the global report, Dr Jane Barratt, International Federation on Ageing said: “This field of research has important implications across generations and also for the future of our broader society.

"Many studies have broadly discussed how pets, such as dogs and cats, contribute to health by reducing anxiety, loneliness and depression, but until today, have not yet been published in a single resource. This new report advances our understanding of the value of companion animals in the framework of human health and the broader society.”

According to Age UK statistics, in the UK alone, for the first time in history, there are 11 million people aged 65 or over, and more people aged 60 or above than there are under 18.

Recent reports state that nearly half of older people (49 per cent of 65+ UK) say that pets or television are their main form of companionship, with one in eight (12 per cent) stating that pets are their main form of company.

Commenting on the report, Ferenc Polz, Head of Bayer Animal Health said: “The therapeutic benefit of companion animals is an area of study attracting increasing interest among health and social science professionals and this sponsored report is yet another example of the life changing potential of human and animal relationships."

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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