Suffering from feelings of loneliness and social isolation is a common phenomenon among people as they age. But new research shows that owning a pet as you grow old can have amazing benefits for both your mental and physical health. The study polled around 2,000 US adults aged 50 to 80. Fifty-five percent of the participants said they owned at least one pet, with dogs being the most common, followed by cats and small animals such as birds and hamsters.
Nearly 90 percent of older pet owners said their animals helped them enjoy life and feel loved, and roughly 80 percent said their pets reduced their levels of stress. Meanwhile, almost three-quarters said their furry friends provided a sense of purpose and also helped them stay physically active. In the case that owning a pet isn’t an option for some animal lovers, the report’s authors recommend volunteering at an animal shelter, arranging pet therapy or pet-sitting.