The great news is that having a pet can be good for us as we age. According to the results of a new University of Michigan-AARP poll, pet owners say their furry friends help them de-stress and stick to a routine. Pets also provide many people with a sense of purpose.
These findings are the latest from the National Poll on Healthy Aging, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s (U-M) academic medical center.
55 percent of older adults ages 50 to 80 have at least one pet. Dogs - 68%, cats – 48% and small pets – birds, fish, and hamsters – 16%.
Physical and Mental Benefits
9 in 10 owners agree that their pets help them enjoy life and feel loved.
8 in 10 say their pets help reduce stress.
66% say their pets help them stay physically active and stick to a routine.
“This study highlights the many physical, psychological and social benefits that pets can have for older adults,” says Alison Bryant, senior vice president of research for AARP.
Older Adults Living Alone
The benefits of pet ownership seem to be more pronounced for older adults.
72% say their pets help them cope with physical or emotional symptoms.
43% indicate their pets take their mind off of pain.
“We have long known that pets are a common and naturally occurring source of support,” says Cathleen Connell, a professor at the U-M School of Public Health. “Helping older adults find low-cost ways to support pet ownership while not sacrificing other important relationships and priorities is an investment in overall mental and physical health.”
More than 65% of responders indicate that their pets help them connect with other people.
The poll results are based on responses from 2,051 people ages 50 to 80, with a margin of error of plus or minus 1 to 3 percentage points, higher among subgroups. The full report, along with past surveys, is available on the National Poll on Healthy Aging website.
Dean and Draper
Looks like the bottom line is sharing our life with a pet as we age has an array of benefits. When you have questions about your insurance, we’re only a phone call away.
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