Interaction with pets can provide many benefits for our most vulnerable populations. Research has found that the human-animal bond can help:
According to HABRI, more than one-third of Americans older than 65 and half of those over 85 live alone. Social isolation and loneliness are a rising concern that can lead to significant physical and mental health issues.
Individuals that are regularly interacting with pets are likely to have decreased levels of depressions and loneliness, and those who own a pet are likely to have more positive social connections and support.
A national survey found that 85 percent of respondents agree that interaction with pets can help reduce loneliness and 72 percent believe human-animal interaction is good for their community.
Organizations like Pet Partners frequently arrange therapy animal visits for adults in senior care facilities to assist with a wide range of needs, including social isolation. Studies show that animal-assisted intervention can promote socialization and engagement in older adults, and decrease feelings of fear and worry.
Pet ownership can help instill a sense of purpose and responsibility in older adults that some would not otherwise have. Additionally, the care involved in owning a pet – including visits to the veterinarian and walking – may lead to increased socialization.