During the pandemic, among all the challenges and trials, a delightful trend has been making its way around the world: the concept of “pandemic pets”—offering isolated citizens a furry friend, while also giving dogs and cats a loving home—was on the minds of millions of people. As EurekAlert reports, the attention around pandemic pets was originally thought to be a trend for families with children, when many individuals were working from home. However, new survey findings reveal that older adults are participating in this trend as well. According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, 10% of all older adults surveyed got a new pet between March 2020 and January 2021. This number was even higher, 16%, for older adults who may have had a child or teen living with them.
According to published reports, older adults describe the decision to adopt a pet as a preventative measure to counter harmful psychosocial effects brought on by the isolation of the pandemic. Older adults are reporting that their pets help them enjoy life, reduce stress, develop a deep sense of purpose, and establish a structured routine—especially true for dog owners who found themselves being more physically active and connecting socially with other dog owners in their community. Those living alone or in poorer health reported that their pet helped them cope with physical or emotional symptoms. This is an important feature of the trend, as older adults are staying home at higher rates to offset their increased risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The pandemic pets trend is certainly offering older adults a friendly companion during high rates of pandemic-induced social isolation. However, the animals being adopted are also benefiting from this trend, as they are finally finding new homes outside of a shelter. In fact, the Humane Society of Huron Valley in Michigan reported record-high adoption rates in the past year and is delighted to see worthy animals get homes.
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Source: One in 10 older adults have gotten a “pandemic pet,” poll finds. EurekAlert!
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/mm-u-oi1032221.php. Accessed April 9, 2021.