New Study Shows Surprising Effect of Pet Ownership on Seniors

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Ruslan Huzau/Shutterstock

You’ve probably noticed how your four-legged bestie influences your mood for the better, but did you know that your pet might be beneficial to your brain? That’s right! The latest studies show that your pet and their company could be just the thing to lower the risk of dementia in your golden years. These findings are especially important for single senior pet owners who are at risk of this troubling illness as they reveal that having a pet can make a drastic change. 

A recent study that involved adults over the age of 50 who lived alone revealed that those living in the company of a loved pet will have considerably less decline in their verbal fluency and verbal memory - compared to those who lived without a pet. This research was published in the  journal JAMA Network Open and was based on data taken from 7,945 people in the mentioned age group.

This study, however, only reflects on people who live alone and does not involve participants who lived with other persons in the household. Still, while the results reinforce the fact that loneliness is a major risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia in old age, they also reveal something new – that the company of a pet counts as much as the company of human family members, if not more so.

The early signs of cognitive decline can be fluency, verbal issues, cognition, and memory problems, and so on. But if you have the company of a pet, whom you can address and care for, can greatly reduce the feelings of loneliness and keep these cognitive issues at bay. 

This study and its results are very important in today’s day and age and for many Americans in particular. Recent U.S. Census Bureau insights revealed that almost 28 percent of all households in the United States were “one-person households” in 2020. This is an alarmingly large number and shows us that many people aged 50 and older will face lonely senior years. 

Of course, even though the results of this study show that older people can maintain their mental health through the company of a pet, the research team emphasized that more advanced studies and clinical trials will be required to fully confirm the results. 

Yet even so, the lack of an effective therapy that can reverse or slow cognitive decline and treat dementia means that these results are a small but very important benefit for the understanding of these issues. And, needless to say, all those who are entering their senior years and want to spend them in a healthier and more beneficial way now know that their next station should probably be a local pet shelter. Find a pet you can love and cherish - and keep your brain healthy while showering them with affection.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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