Our furry friends seem to have endless benefits for us! Researchers have known for a long time that having a pet can help keep their owner in shape and curb loneliness. But CNBC is now reporting that having a pet could help people cognitively by keeping them sharper as they age. There is evidence to suggest that long-term pet ownership could be good for the brain, especially in helping to slow cognitive decline in older adults.
The data is coming out of the University of Michigan and is set to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology. The study found that owning a pet for five or more years delayed aging cognitively for their owner at, or around, the age of 65. This is a novel finding because prior research has only found additive benefits like decreasing blood pressure or loneliness. But this study is finding preventive measures in protecting the owner’s brain. In the study, after a six-year period, the cognitive scores of pet owners decreased at a slower rate than non-pet owners. This finding is even stronger for older adults who are long-term pet owners! The researchers also found something unique in their data: a pattern of cognitive benefits for pet owners that was even greater in Black participants, men, and older adults with a college education.
The researchers believe these significant findings may be cradled in the idea that having a pet reduces an owner’s stress levels, and that stress, separately, has been found to negatively affect cognitive function. In any case, this research stands next to previous convincing evidence that having an animal companion really does enhance your life.
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Scipioni, J. (2022, February 24). Having a pet could help you stay sharper as you age, according to a new study — here’s how. CNBC. Retrieved March 2 from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/24/owning-a-pet-could-help-slow-cognitive-decline-in-older-adults-study.html