Pets for Aging on World Sight Day 2014
Worldwide, approximately 285 million people are living with low vision and blindness, a number only expected to increase globally due to age-related visual impairment[i]. This World Sight Day 2014, we at BHC Animal Health are raising awareness of how companion animals, such as dogs, contribute to the lives of thousands worldwide who face the daily challenge of trying to live and age actively in a dark world.
In Companion Animals & the Health of Older Persons[ii],a new report from the International Federation on Ageing, research highlights how ‘seeing eye’ dogs that have been trained to assist people with functional living, perform Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs). AAIs play a major role in the physical, mental, social, and economic well-being of millions of people worldwide. And AAIs, such as seeing eye dogs, have been playing this role for centuries! Even wall-paintings in ancient Pompeii and a Chinese scroll dating back to 1200 depict blind men being led by dogs, respectively[iii]!
According to patient advocates “4 out of 5 people are needlessly impaired with sight loss. Trends in ageing are leading to increasing numbers of those with irreparable damage to vision”, said Joanna Conlon, Director of Development and Communication, International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). “This World Sight Day, let’s work to ensure that those with permanent sight loss are also able to meet their full potential, enjoying freedom of movement and independence. Guide Dogs are a great way for vision impaired people to regain mobility”.
With current aging trends playing a major role in shaping future public health policy, we can only hope that our canine friends can help play a larger role!
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