The company of a pet can be of great help in countering the risk of depression and loneliness in older people after the loss of a spouse. This is the result of a study published in The Gerontologist and funded by the Gerontological Society of America and the WALTHAM Center for Pet Nutrition.
The researchers used data from various adults who participated in a survey on the interaction between animals and humans conducted by the University of Michigan in 2012. The researchers compared people who had suffered the loss of a spouse with married people who had not suffered this loss.
In general, they found that all people who had lost a spouse experienced a higher risk of depression. However, they also found that those who did not have a pet (in the study it was considered dogs or cats) saw an increase in depressive symptoms as well as a greater feeling of loneliness than those who did have an animal in the house.
“Our findings suggest that pets could help people avoid the negative consequences of loneliness after a loss,” says Dawn Carr, a researcher at Florida State University and lead author of the study.
This study, therefore, confirms the possibility of using pets to treat people, such as those living in facilities for the elderly, who suffer from high levels of loneliness or even depression due to the loss of a family member.
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