There’s a growing body of evidence that pet ownership in older years brings a host of health, social and even economic benefits. So why are older Australians being forced to surrender their beloved pets when they’re entering the aged care system? We take a look at how Mable could help to support older Australians and maintain their friendships with their pets when the time comes.
It’s such a growing concern that it has been raised as an issue in the current Royal Commission into Aged Care. As reported in Aged Care Insite, Dr Janette Young, a lecturer in health sciences at UNSW made a submission to the commission calling on more residential facilities to be welcoming to pets.
She argued: “While 64 per cent of Australian households have a pet, a 2018 Animal Welfare League report found that only 18 percent of residential aged care facilities allowed residents to live with a pet.”
If you’ve been a pet owner, it’s likely you will understand why being asked to surrender your pet may be so distressing. For many, pets are an important and beloved part of the family. For older people, they can also provide essential opportunities for social interaction, a sense of purpose and companionship during what can be a lonely stage of life.
Why pets are good for your health
It’s not just psychological benefits that pet ownership provides. The argument for pets as social enablers is supported by a University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health study which found that more than 50% of dog owners and 40% of pet owners in general meet people in their neighbourhood as a result, and more than 80% of dog owners talk to other people when out walking their dogs.
The Animal Welfare League further cites a number of studies which demonstrate that pets greatly increase quality of life for the elderly, including reduced tension, fatigue and confusion, and increased feelings of enthusiasm, interest and inspiration. Other studies have shown that pets may influence the need for medical services and can improve cardiovascular health.
Find support for you and your pet
According to My Sunshine Coast, even those ageing in their own home can’t always access the support they need to keep their pets, with only 9 percent of in-home services saying that they offer pet-friendly services. For people who wish to age in place, the responsibilities of caring for a pet can very quickly become too much to manage. Family members wanting the best for their ageing loved ones will often recommend the pet is surrendered in an effort to lesson the burden.
Mable is an online platform where you can find, and directly engage with independent support workers in your local area. And it’s a flexible, affordable solution that can work for both you and your furry dependents. Mable’s community of independent support workers are comprised of experienced aged care workers, allied health professionals and nurses, as well as everyday people in your neighbourhood who can provide domestic and social assistance.
You can search the profiles of independent workers in your area based on criteria that’s important to you and once you’ve found someone, you can start a conversation with them online to make sure they’re happy to help care for you pet.
Whether you are using home care package funding, or paying privately for support, you can also use Mable to create a team of people to support you in different ways. So, while you might engage the services of an experienced health professional to provide personal care, you can also engage the student up the road to come and tend to your pet. Or, maybe you can find someone who can do both.
Start searching today to meet independent support workers offering services directly to clients in your area.