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InTheEndEntropyWins t1_j243y9x wrote

This was just a correlational study, so why do they assume pet ownership is causal? (Paper is paywalled so maybe someone else can see their reasoning).


>Sustained ownership of a pet could mitigate cognitive disparities in older adults. Further studies are needed to examine potential causal pathways, including physical activity and stress buffering, versus selection effects.


SpongeJake t1_j24gx8e wrote

Near the end of the article they suggest more study is required, and they state specifically that one shouldn't come to conclusions about cause and effect. They further state that it's possible some people are already in a good mental place, and thus are better able to look after pets.

I know anecdotal accounts are nearly worthless when it comes to making conclusions, but I can tell you as one who is near the age group involved, that I just got a kitten this past summer. I have never laughed or smiled so much in a long time. And the stark differences between my mental health pre-and-post kitty are profound. I had no idea how dark my life had gotten until he came along.

The article mentions isolation as being a contributing factor to dementia, and so this makes me wonder if the fact that you are now once again responsible for a life plays a contributing factor. Human beings need connection, whether it's person or pet. Having that positive connection has been shown to be helpful for one's health in other ways. Wouldn't surprise me to learn that pet ownership can prevent dementia as well. But…we need more data.


YourScaleyOverlord t1_j250bcw wrote

Also anecdotal - a stray cat adopted my aging parents, 10 years after they swore they wouldn't get another pet. The difference in their happiness and mental health post-adoption is astounding.


fadufadu t1_j25ifld wrote

I think maybe having a pet makes you have to use more of your brain compared to not having a pet because you have another life to take care of, so in terms of “if you don’t use it, you lose it”, becomes kind of relevant.

Edit: fixed grammar


Thalkarsh t1_j26bn84 wrote

I'm also thinking about dogs forcing people out for walks, and exercise is great for arterial health in the brain!


lukelinux t1_j26ati7 wrote

Similar situation with an aging relative of mine. It was definitely noticeable


RandomBoomer t1_j28u6br wrote

I'm in my late 60s now, so this study is intriguing.

Back in 2020, when my whole world shut down to just our house, we ended up with two rescue kittens (one just showed up on our porch, the other was starving in the alley behind our house). They were such a bright light during that time, which was stressful even for me, a confirmed misanthrope.

Those two kittens brought the total count to 6 cats (plus a dog), which is a stressor of another kind, but the constant interaction with other sentients beings is exercise in staying cogent and physically active.


watermelonkiwi t1_j26dhiw wrote

This is standard these days to state the possibility of a casual relationship we don’t know is there, put that out there in the news so it gets cemented as truth in people’s minds, and say follow up studies are needed, but then never do them.