AUSTRALIA has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world, which is not only good for us, but as we age can throw up a couple of challenges.
The physical health and social benefits of pet ownership are well and truly documented, particularly for older people.
According to one study, pet owners make 15 per cent fewer visits to a doctor compared with non-pet owners. And among older people, especially, pet ownership also reduces feelings of loneliness and promotes independence.
According to the RSPCA, pet ownership in general can have physical health benefits, including increased cardiovascular health and increased physical activity.
The role of pets is particularly significant for those who live in a nursing home or in assisted care, where studies show they can permanently lift the atmosphere of hospices and nursing homes.
Despite the evidence, the majority of nursing homes do not allow pets and fear of giving up their animal companion is a serious concern for many in the community.
Animal Welfare League Australia has released a report, Pets in Aged Care Snapshot, compiled with the help of The Stafford Group, which reviews pet-friendliness among residential and in-home care providers.
Eighteen per cent of Australian residential care facilities will definitely consider requests for residents to keep a pet, but Victoria and NSW have the lowest figure, at 14 per cent each.
Across the country, 22 per cent of care facilities allow family and friends to bring pets when they visit; the Victorian figure stands at 19 per cent.
Nationally, a third of facilities have shared pets and nearly a quarter offer a visiting pets program. The Victorian figures are 37 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.
Only 7 per cent of in-home care services in Victoria include pet care specifically as part of a package.
In at least half of residential care facilities across all states, it remained unclear whether pet-keeping would be considered. In Victoria this figure was the highest of all, at 81 per cent.
Animal Welfare League Australia advocates for aged care services and policies that keep older people and their pets together for as long as it provides the best health results for both animal and owner.
It says more pet-friendly aged care services are needed. As well as the health and social benefits, keeping older people together with their pets reduces animal surrender rates to shelters.
The group's data suggests 7 per cent of pet surrenders to shelters are directly related to the owner going into aged care.
Details - awla.org.au
Pet sharing an untapped resource
THE sharing economy is not just a young person's game according to PetCloud.
New research compiled by the pet sharing company suggests people who are older than 55 complete over 20 per cent of its pet sharing jobs.
Over 55s are currently completing 600 per cent more bookings and earning over five times more income compared to their younger counterparts.
The service operates like an AirBnB for pets, connecting owners and carers through its website.
- Click HERE To read the South West Victoria Seniors 2019 e-magazine