Pets such as cats and dogs reduce cognitive decline in the elderly. This is what emerges from the preliminary data of a study that will be presented at the 74th Annual Congress of the American Academy of Neurology scheduled for April in Seattle. The study analyzed the cognitive abilities of 1,369 seniors, giving them assessment tests and noting that, six years later, scores declined at a slower rate among pet owners.
The greatest advantage was shown by the elderly who had had a pet next to them for more than 5 years. Previous studies have suggested that human-animal bonding may have health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and stress. Since stress can negatively affect cognitive function, it is possible that the reason for our findings is in the potential stress-absorbing effects among those with a pet, ”explains Tiffany Braley, of the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor. and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “A pet can also increase physical activity and that could also benefit cognitive health.”