One Solution to Face the Dilemma of Social Isolation

Rates of social isolation are only increasing — not only because of an inherently Western attidude being adapted in so many cultures where individualism is favored over family — but because of new techniques, paradigms, and interventions of health that directly have been improving the global age of survival. Without the ability to counterbalance this increasing age due to a lack of technology to keep our neurons from diminishing over time, for example, or the lack of decreasing the rates of non-communicable, age-related diseases, it remains for us thus as a major obstacle in attaining the state of “living in balance,” as the world-renown statistician Hans Rosling once so eloquently put it in a Global Health lecture at Karolinska Institutet, year 2011. If we are to make no further progress to keep our foundation in supporting the elderly, we will inevitably crumble and shall once again be “dying in balance” as our ancient ancestors have done with leaping infant mortality rates. In our situation, it may be waves of elderly who will be at the brunt end of the sword. It appears to be so that in the near future, when our fertility rate will balance itself, our situation is reversing. Not enough children already now in high income countries will not be able to support or give attention to the growing needs of their elders.
One solution to help diminish this problem is the introduction of elderly-friendly pets. While a large motivation for them may be food and a home, pets are able to give unconditional attention to their owners. They are just as capable of banishing social isolation.

Several pet-elderly-friendly foundations, for example, exist in Pennsylvania within the United States, such as The Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and Hope for the Animals. Organizations such as these promote the well-being of pets and seniors, and ultimately try to create a win-win situation. While this animal-elderly strategy may seem to be overly simplified, there certainly is nothing wrong in the logic. In fact, the simplicity of such a strategy as giving pets to seniors to banish isolation may also be its brilliance: this initiative can reach far, and across countless homes. If the elder would like a pet, there is nothing to lose aside from allergies, but then you can always find yourself a breed not privy to causing such a reaction.



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About Adrian Levitsky

Adrian is a Research Technician and Doctoral Student at Karolinska Institutet's ClinTRID department for Inflammatory (Autoimmune) Disease research. He is a blogger for the Silverevolution initiative by ACCESS Health International. He defended his Masters thesis in Global Health at Karolinska and worked together with the CAMbrella project's Swedish team ( in analyzing global key stakeholders of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) and Traditional Medicine (TM). He has an avid interest in research. Particularly, he wishes to research CAM/TM and promulgate an evidence base for the potential effectiveness of integrative care -- as this communication still is lacking globally. Adrian has a background starting as a pilot at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, which later evolved to studying Human Factors Psychology with a drive to understand how man and machine work together. This field often focuses heavily on research and involves testing available theories or finding new solutions to prevent work-related injuries, reduce stress, and emphasize usability/ergonomics. Teaching English in South Korea made him realize the need for innovation and imagination for all school curricula in order to solve today’s dilemmas.

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