Pet Caretaking and Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Older U.S. Adults Participating in a Nationwide Longitudinal Probability Cohort Study | HABRI

Pet Caretaking and Risk of Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Older U.S. Adults Participating in a Nationwide Longitudinal Probability Cohort Study

Principal Investigator

Sandy Branson, Ph.D., MSN, RN (Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth)

Rationale

Although pet caretaking has been associated with a reduction in modifiable risk factors thought to impact dementia, the association between pet caretaking on dementia outcomes has not been explored. We aim to clarify the association of pet caretaking with modifiable lifestyle factors thought to impact dementia and examine the onset and progression of dementia over time by studying over 5,000 older American adults followed through a nationally representative longitudinal probability cohort study, the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), who responded to a question on pet caretaking over a 14-year time period (2002-2016).

Objective

To compare pet caretakers’ and non-caretakers’ lifestyle risk factors for dementia including cerebrovascular/cardiovascular risk factors (physical inactivity, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and cardiovascular/cerebrovascular disease) and psychosocial risk factors (loneliness/social engagement, depression), and to examine the association between pet caretaking and conversion of baseline normal cognition to cognitive impairment or conversion of baseline cognitive impairment to dementia, controlling for confounding variables.

Hypothesis

The hypotheses are that pet caretaking will be associated with fewer cerebrovascular/cardiovascular risk factors and psychosocial risk factors than non-pet caretaking, and pet caretaking will be associated with lower risk of decline in cognitive function of baseline normal cognition to cognitive impairment or conversion of baseline cognitive impairment to dementia after controlling for confounding variables.

Expected Results

1) Pet caretaking will be associated with fewer cerebrovascular/ cardiovascular risk factors and psychosocial risk factors than non-pet caretaking

2) Pet caretaking will be associated with lower risk of decline in cognitive function of baseline normal cognition to cognitive impairment or conversion of baseline cognitive impairment to dementia after controlling for confounding variables.

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