02.04.2013 | 06:04

Friends for life: How pets keep older people healthy and active

“Animals give us daily companionship and support. We care for them”

Brussels, 25 February 2013 – As part of the Europe 2020 Initiatives the EU is promoting innovative partnerships on active and healthy ageing. With scientific evidence now proving that keeping animals makes you healthier IFAH-Europe is launching a new campaign promoting the benefits of pets for the elderly.
The campaign aims to highlight the various ways in which animals not only bring companionship and pleasure but many other benefits to those in a later stage of life. It will run via a Facebook page entitled We Care and will be supported with more in-depth information on how to care for pets available from the IFAH-Europe website. Continuing with the motto “Animals are good for us, be good to them. We care”, the campaign kicks off with an invitation to share short videos showing how older people enjoy life with their pet and giving a brief statement on what their pet means to them and how they care for them. Young people can encourage their parents/grandparents to participate and post the video on our Facebook page.
The initiative was presented at European Pet Night on 20 February 2013 where a wide range of stakeholders and EU decision-makers met to discuss the benefits of pets and responsible pet ownership. As demonstrated at the event by Activ’dog, a Belgian charity providing training for and organising pet-assisted therapy and activities, the presence of a cat or a dog at a nursing home brings joy into what can become a routine way of life and helps stimulate both physical activity and social interaction.
Research has shown that stroking dogs and cats can lower your blood pressure and heart rate helping people to live longer. Taking your dog for regular walks or playing with your cat not only keeps them healthy and active but it provides us with a daily exercise routine. Studies indicate that pet owners require fewer visits to the doctor. The health and social benefits are clear with doctors in some cases even prescribing the adoption of a pet to combat depression, loneliness, inactivity, neurosis and stress.

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