You may have heard about some tricks to keep the mind sharp as you age. From completing crossword puzzles to exercise and socializing, these activities help to keep the mind active and hopefully slow down memory loss.
A cuter and cuddlier way to keep your mind active is by owning a pet. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird or any other friendly pet, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), a “human-animal bond keeps the brain sharp for those over 65.”1
Along with the health benefits of decreasing blood pressure and reducing stress, the University of Michigan Medical Center conducted a study on a group of older adults, of which 53% owned pets. Over the six-year study, the adults were tested and scored on their abilities to count, subtract and recall words. The study showed that, on average, the pet owners’ scores were higher than non-pet owners and over time, pet owners’ scores decreased at a slower rate.1
The benefits of pet ownership continue as they help you2:
Maintain a routine: With tasks such as making sure the pet is fed and cared for each day. This can provide a physical and mental boost.
Be social: Playing with the pet or talking with other pet owners. Socialization provides companionship, giving a sense of purpose and meaning and reducing loneliness.
Get moving: Whether you are walking the dog around the block or playing with your cat on the couch, physical exercise is key to a brain-healthy lifestyle.
If you don’t or can’t own a pet, you can still get in on the cuddles!
- Shelters and rescue groups are always looking for volunteers to help care for animals.
- Some foster programs allow volunteers to bring animals home temporarily for some one-on-one attention.
- Visiting pet therapy programs are great activities for senior centers.
So, get out those leashes and fill up the water bowls! The health benefits of pets are purrfect and barktastic.
- Ventiera, Sara. (2022, March 22) Pet Ownership May Delay Cognitive Decline in Older Adults. AARP. Retrieved on April 28, 2023 from https://www.aarp.org/home-family/your-home/info-2022/pet-ownership-and-cognition.html
- Cleveland Clinical Health essentials (2023, February 9). The Health Benefits of Pets. Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved on April 28, 2023 from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-having-a-pet-of-any-kind-may-boost-your-mood-and-keep-your-brain-healthy/
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S7694_22-7186_enewsletter 2023_C Reviewed 05/12/2023
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