Dog gone lonely people need a pet
As new research reveals the health risks associated with loneliness, insurance technology expert Aquarium Software says its own research suggests pets can be the perfect antidote to being home alone. The Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness found that three quarters of older people in the UK are lonely. Over half have never told anyone, and seven in ten said friends and family would probably be surprised by how they feel.
YouGov research commissioned last year by Aquarium Software, 26 per cent said the main reason for having a pet was companionship, while 36 per cent had a pet when separated or divorced and a massive 66 per cent said the main reason was being widowed. With an estimated 1.1 million ‘chronically lonely’ people in the UK and 17 per cent of older people having human contact less than once a week, could a bit of animal magic provide at least part of the answer?
“All the research suggests pets have a huge role to play in helping solve the national loneliness crisis engulfing the UK,” said Aquarium Software Director, Mark Colonnese. “A quarter of people already say pets provide companionship and perhaps the estimated eight million lonely men need to consider investing in ‘man’s best friend’. The latest technology means owning and insuring a pet is more affordable than ever and price alone is no longer a barrier to pets tackling what is fast becoming one of the contemporary health challenges of the developed world.”
The Royal College of General Practitioners has said loneliness can be as bad as long-term illnesses like diabetes, and while the RSPCA and others have pointed out pets encourage owners to interact with other people, Aquarium research suggests the picture may not be so simple: “No-one in our research study said that they had a pet to make it easier to meet new people, which is perhaps surprising,” added Colonnese. “Given the seemingly compelling convergence of research data, however, perhaps pet ownership and pet insurance could be offered as health benefits on the NHS in the future,” concluded Mark.