Scientific research has demonstrated the link between human-animal interaction and healthy aging.
Pet ownership is one of the most common ways older adults interact with animals; over half of adults over 50 have at least one pet. Research has shown that pet ownership can provide important forms of social and emotional support for older adults that can reduce distress, loneliness and improve overall quality of life. One study found that strong attachment to a pet was associated with less depression among older adults.
In addition to pet ownership, animal-assisted interventions such as animal-assisted activities (AAA) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT) are increasingly popular ways older adults are interacting with animals.
The human-animal bond positively contributes towards healthy aging in several areas, including:
- Mental Health
- Anxiety, stress, depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Physical Health
- Physical activity, obesity, cardiovascular health
- Quality of life, pain management, early detection
For more information about Healthy Aging:
Gee, N. R., Mueller, M. K., & Curl, A. L. (2017). Human-Animal Interaction and Older Adults: An Overview. Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1416. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01416
Garrity, Thomas F., et al. “Pet ownership and attachment as supportive factors in the health of the elderly.” Anthrozoös 3.1 (1989): 35-44.