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People who live alone but have pets are likely to have lower risk of dementia, new study reveals

Pets add more than love and cuddles, they also help with cognitive skills and reduce the risk of dementia

People who live alone but have pets are likely to have lower risk of dementia, new study reveals
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Dominika Roseclay, Good News Network | Professor Ciyong Lu, of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China

Having pets is a different joy with its pros and cons. Right from cozy cuddles to becoming a pet parent, the experience is one to treasure. Whether it's a goldfish a furry dog or even any other animal, each creature brings a different joy. However, Good News Network shared that having pets brings the added benefit of staving off dementia among owners. After research, the JAMA network shared that pet parents who live alone have a lesser risk of dementia thanks to the different species of animals to provide their love and warmth.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Chevanon Photography
Representative Image Source: Pexels| Chevanon Photography

Almost 8000 people participated in a study to reveal that pet parents have better cognitive skills even at the age of 50 and above which greatly contributes to the diagnosis of dementia. The study further added that pet parents have better and prolonged verbal fluency and memory. The study pointed out that the same had to do with loneliness which is often waived off when people live with pets. The loneliness caused by living alone leads to a reduction in verbal abilities adding to the risk of dementia. The study also pointed out the difference between aging alone by oneself, which is an added trend, and aging with pets.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Dominika Roseclay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Dominika Roseclay

The corresponding author of the project, Professor Ciyong Lu, of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China shared his views on the study. He said, “Pet ownership offset the associations between living alone and declining rates in verbal memory and verbal fluency.” He calls it “a significant modifier” in all 3 verbal components—composite verbal cognition, verbal memory, and verbal fluency. The study also highlighted that having a pet made no difference for aged people living with other family members, it solely had a drastic effect on people living alone.

“These findings suggest that pet ownership may be associated with slower cognitive decline among older adults living alone,” the study added. The study does not point out a direct association between having pets and a reduced risk of dementia among aged people living alone. However, it does emphasize the benefits of the same which include the added cognitive functions of attention, reasoning, processing, speed, accuracy and so on. So the furry guys are likely to make life much better not only emotionally but also mentally. In a similar instance, a therapist was moved to share what they learned about the importance of animals in one’s life. The therapist’s tweet somewhat adds weightage and emphasis to the result of the study too.

Representative Image Source: Pexels| Japheth Mast
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Japheth Mast

"One of the more surprising things I’ve learned in my years as a marriage and family therapist is that pets are more than just 'man’s best friend'—most families see them as 'actual' members of the family system," the therapist said. While he wrote the same about the tragic news of the passing away of a pet, his words surely resonate with pet parents. The therapist explained in a series of threads how he dealt with several clients and the passing of their pets and was able to conclude that pet parents consider animals to be nothing less than family members. “I have seen pets be life-changing for clients who, for reasons of trauma or neurodivergence, did not have robust social or family networks as they tried to do therapeutic work,” he added.


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