There has already been a lot of research and data showing the benefits of having an animal companion to a human’s psychological and physical health.

Pets are once again spotlighted on whether they are fit, especially for older adults who are experiencing severe isolation in time of the coronavirus pandemic.

Social isolation among seniors is linked to various adverse psychological and health-related outcomes, such as cardiovascular impairment, chronic pain, loneliness and depression.

Experts suggested that pet ownership can help alleviate the negative effects of social isolation, and help offset deterioration in one’s mental health.

A team of Japanese researchers headed by Tomoko Ikeuchi from the Human Care Research Team at the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology went on to study the real effect of pet ownership on the psychological health of both socially isolated and non-isolated seniors.

The study involved 9,856 seniors ranging from 65 to 84 years old, all of whom lived in the community and were not disabled.

From the statistical analyses, the researchers found the expected that socially isolated individuals’ psychological health was lower than that of non-socially isolated individuals. Those who are most vulnerable to suffering from negative psychological effects were those who were socially isolated and did not now or never had owned a dog.

“After adjusting for demographic and potential confounders of age, sex, income level, and living arrangements, socially isolated current or past dog owners had better psychological health than socially isolated individuals who were never dog owners. However, there was no such difference observed among current or past cat owners,” the authors wrote.

In conclusion, experts believe that an effective treatment to prevent deterioration of seniors’ psychological health might be to simply introduce an animal companion into their home.

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