senior lady holding jack russell in her lap

Human Animal Interaction

Creative solutions could help seniors benefit from pet ownership

New recommendations highlight potential solutions to overcome both perceived and real barriers to pet ownership for older adults.

Creative solutions can enable older adults to spend more time with pets enjoying the emotional and physical benefits that this bonding experience can bring. Researchers at the Waltham Petcare Science Institute, University of Montana and Ohio State University have released new recommendations that highlight potential solutions to overcome both perceived and real barriers to pet ownership.

Existing schemes to help older adults include financial help with adoption fees, home delivery of pet food (such as Meals on Wheels for pets) and programs to help look after or re-home pets if adults become unable to care for them. New solutions could include ‘pet-adoption prescriptions’ for older adults affected with grief or isolation, trial adoptions from shelters and guidance on pet species and breed to match the individual’s needs.

“Many older adults would love to spend time with a pet and would benefit greatly from the positive effects the companionship brings, yet they worry about how they can afford or care for a one,” said Sandra McCune, PhD, Scientific Leader, Human Animal Interaction at WALTHAM®. “In many cases, these barriers are easy to overcome. This new report shines a light on the services that exist, and will hopefully inspire communities, institutions and policymakers to find new and innovative solutions. We envision a future in which fostering human-animal bonds is no longer seen as alternative care, but a standard of care.”