People who are looking to stay well as they age may want to adopt a pet as their companion. They will be there with you and beside you through all the moments according to a new data from the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging.
The survey and researchers polled about 2,000 U.S. adults from ages 50 to 80. Fifty-five percent (55%) said they owned at least one pet. Dogs were the most common pet given the results, followed by cats and small animals, such as birds and hamsters. There are also some who owns fishes and aquatic animals. But no matter the type of animal, the wide majority of owners said that their pets boosted their mental and physical health through numerous reasons.
Nearly 90% of older pet owners said their partner animals helped them enjoy life and feel unconditional love; roughly 80% said their pets reduced their stress levels; and almost three-quarters said their furry partners provided a sense of purpose.
In addition, 64% of pet owners — and 78% of dog owners — said their pets helped them stay physically active given a daily routine with their partner of walking and running. Sixty percent also said their pets helped them cope with physical and emotional health issues.
Still, plenty of research has shown that just about anyone can benefit from their animal companion, since animals can lower stress, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and encourage physical activity. The new poll suggests that pet ownership may be especially impactful for older adults, given how common loneliness and social isolation are within this age group.
Human social support comes with a host of health benefits — less stress, lower rates of chronic disease and more — and research shows that interacting with pets can bring many of the same benefits. If owning a pet isn’t an option for some animal lovers, the report’s authors recommend volunteering at an animal shelter, arranging pet therapy visits or pet-sitting.