Owning a pet might boost our brains as we age. In a recent study published in the Journal of Aging and Health, researchers at the University of Michigan surveyed 20,000 participants over age 50 every two years. They found that people over age 65 who owned a pet for more than 5 years had higher cognitive scores compared to people of the same age who did not own a pet or who owned pets for shorter periods of time. Dementia increases significantly as adults enter their 80s and 90s, so efforts to prevent cognitive decline are important. A number of modifiable factors are thought to be related to the development of dementia, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, stress, and social isolation. Having a pet appears to be one lifestyle change that could improve the brain function and overall health of older adults through emotional support and buffering of stress.
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