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Owning a popular pet can reduce the risks

Owning a popular pet can reduce the risks

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Not only can a dog protect against loneliness, but long-term pet ownership can also have a positive effect on memory performance.

Dementia is a progressive and incurable neurological disease. It is characterized by decreased cognitive abilities and progressive memory loss that can no longer be reversed. Alzheimer’s disease usually develops in four stages.

As the population is aging and age is a risk factor for dementia, more and more people will suffer from it in the future. However, dementia is not inevitable. Lifestyle also plays an important role in protecting against neurodegenerative diseases. According to a study, long-term dog ownership can have a protective effect.

Dementia prevention: Researchers are studying dog ownership as a way to protect against the disease

The risk of developing dementia can be partly affected. For example, owning a dog reduces risk. © Cretista/Imago

According to information received from Psychology Today Studies show that about a third of dementia cases are linked to causes that can be controlled and changed, including the individual’s lifestyle. These include, for example, social isolation, lack of physical activity and chronic stress, as well as depression and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the focus of many scientific studies on dementia prevention is on lifestyle habits that can reduce the likelihood or severity of these diseases. As a team of researchers discovered, keeping a dog can also have a positive impact on the risk of dementia.

In your StadyWhich will be published in the specialized magazine in 2022 Journal of Aging and Health The research team, led by Dr. Jennifer W. Appelbaum of the University of Florida in Gainesville discusses how owning a dog can help offset cognitive decline in older adults. Their considerations were based on the already known and proven positive effects of living with a pet on well-being. Owning a dog can be linked to a lower risk of depression, improved cardiovascular health, and reduced feelings of loneliness.

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Dementia prevention: The study showed that long-term dog ownership can protect against the disease

For their study, the scientists analyzed data from the University of Michigan Health and Retirement Study. For this purpose, a group of 1,369 people was analyzed and monitored over a period of six years using different cognitive tests. The goal was to study the effects of dog ownership on cognitive abilities in older people. However, the researchers were convinced that there was no significant cognitive benefit from simply having a dog in the room or petting it before the test. Therefore, they hypothesized that short interactions with a pet could not help, but only daily interactions with a familiar dog over a longer period of time could have a positive effect on cognitive abilities.

The results ultimately showed a difference among participants who were 65 or older. It found that those who had continuously owned dogs for more than five years had better cognitive abilities than those who had never owned a pet or had owned a pet for less than five years. In addition, the biggest advantage of dog ownership was that long-term pet owners over the age of 65 performed better on tests related to verbal memory. Researchers hypothesize that oxytocin, known as the “love hormone” or “feel-good hormone,” plays an important role. Accordingly, the hormone not only has emotional effects, but can also affect memory encoding in humans at a neural level. Seniors can benefit not only emotionally but also cognitively from extra doses of oxytocin through long-term dog ownership.

This article only contains general information about the health topic in question and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It does not, in any way, replace a visit to a doctor. Unfortunately, our editorial team cannot answer individual questions about medical conditions.