Seniors who own a pet may slow their rate of cognitive decline, according to a preliminary study recently presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 74th Annual Meeting.
Money Talks News’ recent article entitled “Sharp Mind in Old Age? Thank Your Pet” reports that the positive effect appears to be particularly pronounced for those who own a pet for at least five years.
The study looked at data from 1,369 older adults with an average age of 65.
All had normal cognitive skills at the outset of the study. Of the adults in the study, 53% owned pets, with 32% having had their pet for five years or longer.
After examining cognitive test data, the researchers found that after six years, long-term pet owners had a cognitive composite score that was 1.2 points higher compared than those who did not own pets.
In a press release, study author Dr. Tiffany Braley of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor remarked that the positive impact of animal companions may stem in part from the animals’ ability to reduce our levels of stress:
“As stress can negatively affect cognitive function, the potential stress-buffering effects of animal companions could provide a plausible reason for our findings. A companion animal can also increase physical activity, which could benefit cognitive health.”
However, Braley — who also is a member of the American Academy of Neurology — said more research is needed to both confirm the results and identify underlying mechanisms that may be responsible for the link.
Earlier studies have found that the presence of pets can help reduce their owners’ levels of stress and even lower their blood pressure.
Reference: : Money Talks News (May 5, 2022) “Sharp Mind in Old Age? Thank Your Pet”