"It was good to hear that people were so positive about their pets!"
A furry friend may be the best medicine when it comes to dealing with loneliness in older adults and the elderly. That's according to a new study released by researchers at the University of Rochester.
The two-year study focused on 830 primary care patients, 60 years and older. It found pet owners were nearly 40 percent less likely to report loneliness, compared to older adults without pets.
"I think what's really interesting is just the idea of connectedness and what that means is broader than we often think about. It's not just being connected to a loved one or a spouse, but that connectedness can come in all different forms," said researcher Kim VanOrden.
When it comes to overcoming loneliness, researchers believe taking care of a pet can provide older adults with a sense of purpose and responsibility.
"We were talking about some pretty difficult stuff, feeling lonely and like a burden and to be able to also talk about, but you know what, I have this dog, or I have this cat at home, and they, they brighten my day."
There is a trade off to this study. Researchers were not able to look at the cost of owning a pet, nor the energy involved when caring for an animal.
"We do worry that older adults sometimes will take care of pets and neglect themselves occasionally, in terms of financial resources and things like that. But there are programs in Monroe County that can help older adults financially if they're struggling with that and have a pet."
Overall, researchers say this study suggests pets have a positive effect on their senior companions, and can help many overcome loneliness.