Researchers found that owning a pet helps those with dementia. (iStock)
A recent study from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, suggests that pet ownership may slow the progression of dementia in individuals over 50 who live alone. Published in JAMA Network Open, the research involved over 7,900 participants, revealing that those living alone with pets exhibited slower rates of developing dementia-related symptoms. Specifically, owning a pet appeared to positively impact verbal memory and fluency. Professor Ciyong Lu, the study’s author, highlighted that pet ownership offsets the decline in these cognitive functions seen in those who lived alone but not in those residing with others.
The study emphasizes the potential link between pet ownership, reduced loneliness, and a lower risk of dementia, contrasting with the negative effects associated with living alone. While more than 55 million people worldwide suffer from dementia, with almost 10 million new cases annually, there is currently no cure. The World Health Organization suggests that staying active and mentally stimulated may aid in dementia prevention. Lu mentioned the need for clinical trials to confirm the findings, indicating a promising avenue for further research into the role of pets in cognitive health for older adults.
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