Funding for pets is a smart idea

Is home somewhere that you feel comfortable? Is it filled with memories of beloved friends and family — some of whom may be furry animals?

Researchers analyzed data from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, a national study of adult development and aging that recruited more than 50,000 Canadians between the ages of 45 and 85.

They found more than one-third of older Canadians are choosing to age with pets and, for some people, living with pets can increase life satisfaction.

My research focuses on social justice and aging, with a special interest in the human-animal bond. I recently collaborated on a report for the federal government on seniors, aging in place and community. When I researched community supports in Canada for this report, I discovered there is no government funding to help older adults care for pets.

This is unfortunate because the relationship between humans and non-human companions has become increasingly important to Canadians. While people and their pets may seem like a frivolous concern, people’s relationships with their pets impact wellness and health in perhaps surprising ways.

Helping people in financial need to pay for their pets is fiscally responsible, since maintaining the human-animal bond could in the long term reduce health-care costs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.”

Aging in place is associated with decreased depression, maintaining personal identity, staying connected with community, friends and family, as well as avoiding the emotional and physical pain associated with leaving a familiar place.

For many older adults, pets are considered to be family members. Interactions with pets are not only important in terms of companionship, they are also associated with better health.

For example, a study of people in Germany and Australia found people who continuously own a pet are healthiest, visiting the doctor less often than non-pet owners. Researchers have linked the human-animal bond to reduced cardiovascular disease risk, lowered blood pressure and lower cholesterol.

Research also suggests people with pets are less lonely, have stronger support networks, and they are more involved in community activities.

But many older adults do not have adequate retirement income, and in such cases, caring for pets can become too expensive to manage.

Plans to help older adults faced with climate-related danger should also consider that some people have chosen not to evacuate severe weather situations when they are unable to bring their pets.

Compliance with evacuation orders might increase if government programs were implemented to provide vaccinations for pets and to evacuate older adults with their pets so that they can go to emergency shelters together.

In the United States, there have been changes to disaster planning and disaster preparation exercises to respond to the rescue and care of companion animals.

Ensuring pets are evacuated and reunited with their humans can be a positive influence on mental health after disasters.

Integrating new initiatives within existing community supports to help older adults care for the animals that share their lives would be a win-win, promoting wellness and potentially reducing health expenditures over the longer term.

L.F. Carver is an adjunct assistant professor at Queen’s University in Ontario. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.

Just Posted

Ad firm says controversial billboards promoting Bernier’s party staying up

OTTAWA — The owner of billboards currently showcasing ads that seek to… Continue reading

14 year old and family need community support after teen hit by car

A 14 year old and his family need financial help after the… Continue reading

Police say someone fired paintballs at people outside drug consumption site in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Police in southern Alberta are investigating after they say… Continue reading

Is federal carbon tax killing jobs? Experts say answer isn’t ‘black and white’

REGINA — The Saskatchewan government says the federal carbon tax is killing… Continue reading

New book assesses Trudeau government’s record of living up to pledges

OTTAWA — A new book arriving on the eve of the federal… Continue reading

WATCH: Snakes, lizards and more at the Western Canadian Reptile Expo in Red Deer

The 10th annual Western Canadian Reptile Expo is this weekend in Red… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Tuesday and Sept. 3 The Tony Connelly Singers provide an opportunity to… Continue reading

A look at policy areas scrutinized by a new book on the Trudeau government

OTTAWA — A group of two dozen Canadian academics took a deep… Continue reading

Father of suspected B.C. killer seeks access to video taken before son’s death

VANCOUVER — The father of a suspected killer of three people in… Continue reading

US tech industry becomes hotbed for employee activism

SAN FRANCISCO — When Liz O’Sullivan was hired at the New York… Continue reading

Jolie shares pride in son Maddox, joining Marvel movie

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Angelina Jolie says she’s “so proud” that her 18-year-old… Continue reading

Extinction bites: countries agree to protect sharks and rays

GENEVA — Countries have agreed to protect more than a dozen shark… Continue reading

Trudeau and Trump hold face to face meeting on sidelines of G7 summit

BIARRITZ, France — Justin Trudeau met face-to-face with U.S. President Donald Trump… Continue reading

Study reveals new details of overseas Cold War intelligence effort by Canadians

OTTAWA — Canada enlisted citizens who travelled to Communist countries during the… Continue reading

Most Read