Cats, community care and older people living alone
There is a large and growing body of evidence that demonstrates the benefits of the human-animal bond. Research shows a relationship between violent crime and cruelty to animals; conversely, it has been demonstrated that empathy can be learned in young children with the assistance of companion animals (humane education).
The health benefits of companion animals are reported to include everything from improved psychological health to reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease, reduced blood pressure, and improved chances of survival following a heart attack.
For many older people living alone, pets provide loving companionship, a ‘social lubricant’ (others will make or maintain communication with the person on account of the pet) and purpose. It’s obvious then, that keeping older people and their pets together is to benefit the individuals, the pets, and the community.
If the people providing care (whether as paid professionals or family carers) understood and took into account these benefits, they could provide better person-centred care. Recognising this, Cat Protection approached the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing for financial assistance to develop a pilot program to assist older people receiving community care, with pet care.
We have developed background papers and an education seminar for professional care workers, and resources that can easily be used by family carers. If you are interested in finding out more, or if you care for a person who needs assistance with pet care, please contact Kristina Vesk on 02 9519 7201 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have a list of pet services in the Hunter region we can email, which includes a list of pet-friendly retirement villages, and a background paper on people living with dementia and pets, with practical tips including a template animal care plan. This project supports our mission at Cat Protection to honour the unique relationship between people and cats, and we thank the Australian Government for their support.