In his latest blog post, our Chief Executive Peter Gorbing asks, can dogs help our ageing population?

As a society we are exercised, quite rightly, by a serious concern as to how we will support a growing population of older people.

Families are often dispersed, resulting in many elderly people not seeing family members for long stretches of time. Working people generally live incredibly busy lives and, although we may all mean well, most of us devote little time to ensuring we play our part in supporting the well-being of everyone in our community.

Over the past few months, Dogs for the Disabled has been exploring some of these issues with other charities that support elderly people. Building on our belief that dogs are good for all of us, and our extensive experience of bringing dogs and people together, we know that dogs can have a positive effect on the health and well-being of older people.

Interaction with animals is important for all of us. Just because a person does not feel able to look after a dog 24/7 does not change that basic need and the benefits that come from positive interaction with dogs. The problems of social isolation amongst older people are well documented and yet some of the solutions maybe staring us in the face.

So, we plan to be creative about how we develop our services to ensure older people are able to spend time with dogs – be it specialist dog clubs, dog walking groups, therapy sessions or creating appropriate support mechanisms for ‘dog share’ schemes. Why do it? Simply put, it will lead to a fitter population of older people – both physically and in terms of mental health well-being.

We are keen to hear about any ideas you may have on this topic.