Why every older adult should have a pet

Did you know that nearly half of older adults experience loneliness? A 2012 study out of the University of California, San Francisco, found that 43% of people over 60 years old reported feeling lonely, despite only 18% actually living alone.

Loneliness hinders the ability for adults to age in place. In fact, the study also discovered that those who are lonely experience the following:

  • Activities of daily living more likely to decline
  • Upper extremity tasks are more challenging
  • Become less mobile
  • Climbing stairs is more difficult
  • Higher increased risk of death

On that note, however, American researchers published an article the year before exploring the connection between pet ownership and well-being. This study found that pet owners tend to fare better than those without pets.

One finding was that pet owners happen to be less lonely. They also tend to be more active. Here are 10 other health benefits to owning a pet, according to the study:

  1. Pet owners have greater self esteem
  2. Pet owners are more conscientious
  3. Pet owners are more extroverted
  4. Pet owners are less fearful
  5. Pet owners are less preoccupied
  6. Pet owners have a positive sense of self
  7. Pet owners have less depression
  8. Pet owners are more subjectively happy
  9. Pet owners have less perceived stress
  10. Pets can mitigate the negative effects of rejection

If you’re an older adult (or have a loved one who is), consider getting a pet. The companionship will help you cope with your feelings of loneliness, will make you happier, and will get you healthier.