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Owning Pets Helps Slow Down Dementia For People Over 50!



Quick Smiles:

  • Having a pet can help slow down cognitive decline for folks over 50 living solo, according to a new study.
  • Among the 7,945 participants, those who owned pets showed slower rates of decline in verbal memory and fluency.
  • While living alone can be a risk factor for dementia, owning a pet can help reduce loneliness and slow cognitive decline.

If you’re over 50 and living alone, don’t fret! A new study has discovered that having a furry friend around can help keep your mind sharp. Almost 8,000 participants took part in this study, and the results are definitely something to wag your tail about!

Researchers discovered that pet ownership was linked to slower rates of decline in verbal memory and fluency among the older adults living solo. So, not only do you get a cute companion, but Fido or Whiskers might just be your secret weapon against cognitive decline.

The study was comprised of 7,945 mainly white British participants from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. The average age of the participants was 66, and they were followed over an eight-year period. More than a third of the group (35.1 percent) were proud pet owners, while about 30% of the group lived alone.

Now, we’ve all heard that living alone can be a risk factor for developing dementia and cognitive decline. But guess what? Among these folks, raising dogs or cats was related to reduced loneliness. So, who needs a roommate when you can have a pet?

The new research, published in JAMA Network, delved deeper into the association between aging solo—a trend that’s been on the rise over the past few decades—and pet ownership. And the results were as clear as a bell.

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

In fact, it was a “significant modifier” in all three associations—composite verbal cognition, verbal memory, and verbal fluency.


However, it’s worth noting that owning a cat or dog didn’t make a difference for older people who lived with others. So, it seems the magic of pet ownership really shines for those living alone.

Prof. Lu is now advocating for clinical trials that could help inform public health measures to address dementia among the elderly. So, if you’re living alone and over 50, it might be time to consider adopting a pet. Not only will you gain a loyal friend, but you’ll also be doing your brain a favor! Share this advice with your friends living alone on social media.