According to a new study, pets can help individuals stay sharp as they age. Here's how it works:
Owning a pet might help combat declining brain health in older adults, the study found. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File) CHARLIE RIEDEL AP
According to a new study, your dog or cat may be healthier for your health than you realize, especially as you get older. For years, academics have lauded the advantages of owning a pet. According to studies, having a companion animal can reduce anxiety and loneliness, enhance heart health, and help with allergies. According to a pilot study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 74th Annual Meeting in April, a pet may be able to assist elderly folks stay mentally sharp.
In a news release, research author Tiffany Braley noted, "Previous studies have suggested that the human-animal link may have health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and stress.Our findings imply that having a pet may also protect you from cognitive impairment." According to the Mayo Clinic, "cognitive decline" involves issues with memory, language, thinking, and judgment.
According to the news release, researchers looked studied the brain health of 1,369 older persons with an average age of 65. Within the group, 53% of adults had a pet, with 32% having had their pet for five years or more. According to the news release, researchers assessed the individuals over a six-year period and discovered that those who did not have pets had their brain health deteriorate at a faster pace. People who had dogs for more than five years had the slowest rate of mental decline and a 1.2-point higher average brain health score than non-pet owners. Researchers came up with a few suggestions as to why this might happen. Because stress has been shown to impair cognitive performance, the potential stress-reducing effects of pet ownership could give a credible explanation for our findings," Braley said in a statement. "A companion animal can also improve physical activity, which may benefit cognitive health, says the author.
Race, education level, and gender may all play a part in how dogs can aid preserve brain function, according to the researchers. The survey included 88 percent white adults, 7% African-American adults, and 3% people of other races. According to the study, participants who were Black, men, and had a college education benefited the most from having a pet for a long time. The study's limitations were how frequently the length of pet ownership was measured, and the authors stated that further research is needed to determine how ethnicity, gender, and other characteristics influence the relationship between brain health and dogs.