Uncovering Pet Ownership Benefits, Challenges, and Resources in an Aging Society: Promoting Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Community Environments | HABRI

Uncovering Pet Ownership Benefits, Challenges, and Resources in an Aging Society: Promoting Healthy Aging in Healthcare and Community Environments

Principal Investigator

Jessica Bibbo, PhD (Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging)

Rationale

Healthy aging enables adults to maintain their wellbeing by creating environments which assist individuals to enact their values and preferences. The human-animal bond plays a vital role in the lives of older adults, including those living with dementia; therefore, pets are likely to impact older adults’ values, needs, and preferences. Caregivers are essential to the health and wellbeing of millions of older adults. Recent evidence suggests that older adults’ pets can have a significant impact on those caregivers. The promotion of healthy aging also relies on healthcare and social service professionals. Addressing the topic of pet ownership can promote honest and productive communication, uncovering risks and benefits to patients’ health.

Objective

  • Objective 1: Identify the prevalence of pet ownership issues encountered among an extensive interprofessional sample of healthcare and social service organization professionals working directly with older adults and their caregivers.
  • Objective 2: Identify specific benefits, challenges, and resources provided by pet ownership and the human-animal bond encountered by professionals working with older adults and their caregivers.
  • Objective 3: Apply the results of Objectives 1 and 2 to create and disseminate consumer friendly information to healthcare and social service professionals on the benefits, challenges, and resources provided by pet ownership and the human-animal bond to
    promote the healthy aging of older adults and their caregivers.

Hypothesis

The aim of this study is to identify pet ownership issues raised in healthcare and social service settings by older adults (including those living with dementia) and their caregivers.

Design

A survey of an interdisciplinary sample of healthcare and social service professionals working directly with older adults and their caregivers will be used to identify specific benefits, challenges, and resources provided by pet ownership in these populations.

Expected Results

The results will elevate pet ownership issues from anecdotal professional experiences to recognized factors that shape healthy aging.

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