The sociability factor - why homesitting improves wellbeing
Posted on 7 October, 2019
Variety is the spice of life and now scientists[i] in the USA have revealed that variety in your social circle may help people live longer.
Researchers at The University of Texas in Austin have found that older adults who spend more time interacting with a wide range of people were more likely to be physically active and had greater emotional well-being.
On the flip side other research has revealed just how harmful to health loneliness and social isolation can be, particularly for older people who can be more vulnerable since retiring and losing their work networks.
The Campaign to End Loneliness[ii], a UK based campaign group has highlighted that lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity. Loneliness increases the likelihood of mortality by 26%.
That’s the bad news. But the good news is that this can be overcome by getting out and about meeting more people and generally being a lot more sociable.
One of the ways that people can do this is by becoming a home and pet sitter. The majority of our homesitters are people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who have retired and are looking for something to keep them active and busy. Home sitting fits the bill perfectly.
The role is unique in that it gives people the opportunity to travel throughout the UK, staying in people’s homes and looking after their pets when they go on holiday.
It’s a social role as not only are homesitters meeting and interacting with clients but they have the chance to explore new areas, meeting new people when they are out walking dogs or sat having a cuppa in the local café.
Some homesitters who have regular assignments with the same client, will even do activities such as visit a local gym, join a local choir or attend a church group in the area and often develop good friendships this way.
One of our homesitters who really enjoys the social side of the job is retired teacher; Marion Foran aged 61 from Hanley Swan in the Malvern Hills who has been working with us since taking early retirement from her job in a busy London comprehensive school in 2012.
During her teaching career, Marion lived in East London but when she retired she decided to move to the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire. Marion had read Good Housekeeping magazine for years and noticed the Homesitters adverts in the magazine. She decided it was something she’d enjoy doing when she retired, so when the time came she decided to apply.
Marion says, “There were a couple of reasons I decided to start home sitting. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get a dog myself so liked the idea of spending time with different kinds of dogs and I also wanted to visit different areas.
“I’ve stayed in some amazing places such as a beautiful house on a big estate in Surrey with lovely grounds near a canal, which was perfect for walking the dogs. Another favourite was a weekend I spent in a lovely Georgian property in deepest Herefordshire with beautiful grounds and views over the rolling Herefordshire Hills. I also have a regular client I home sit for in my local area and I really enjoy my assignments there looking after her golden retriever, in fact the client has become a friend and we sometimes meet up for lunch.”
As well as home and pet sitting, Marion also volunteers at big sporting events. She was a Games Maker at the London 2012 Olympics where she watched Andy Murray win his Gold medal at Wimbledon and has also volunteered at tennis championships and most recently the World Athletics and Para-Athletic Championships in London.
Marion finds home sitting the perfect flexible role to fit around her volunteering positions and holidays. She says, “I can pick and choose to do as much or as little as I want around my other commitments. I’ve been away on quite a few holidays recently, so it wouldn’t have been fair to have a pet of my own, so being able to spend time with dogs and enjoy their company and go away when I want to suits me really well.”
If you like the idea of becoming a homesitter, then please get in touch. To find out more about the role click here.