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Inspirational Story of the Week: Owning Pets Helps Stave Off Dementia for People Over 50 Living on Their Own...

An Article By The Good News Network...

Caring for a pet helps stave off cognitive decline for people over 50 who live on their own, according to a new study of almost 8,000 participants.

Researchers found that pet ownership was associated with slower rates of decline in verbal memory and verbal fluency among the older adults who were living alone.

The study included 7,945 mostly-white British participants from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing with an average age of 66.

Followed over an eight year period, more than a third of the group (35.1 percent) owned pets; about 30% of the group lived alone.

Previous studies suggested that solitary living is a risk factor for developing dementia and cognitive decline, but among those folks, raising dogs or cats was related to reduced loneliness.

Some research has found that pet ownership is associated with better verbal memory and executive function, but others failed to find any evidence.

The new research published in JAMA Network aimed to further explore the association between aging by oneself—a trend which has been on the rise over the past few decades—and pet ownership. And the results were clear.

“Pet ownership offset the associations between living alone and declining rates in verbal memory and verbal fluency,” said study corresponding author Professor Ciyong Lu, of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

It was “a significant modifier” in all 3 associations—composite verbal cognition, verbal memory, and verbal fluency.

“Pet ownership was associated with slower rates of decline among older adults living alone.”

But owning a cat or dog did not make any difference for older people who lived with other people.

“These findings suggest that pet ownership may be associated with slower cognitive decline among older adults living alone.”


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