A long, long time ago…. back in the 16th century, the world-renowned explorer Juan Ponce de Leon set out to find the Fountain of Youth. He found Florida.
Since then, our ongoing quest for eternal youth through fitness, nutrition, serums and potions fueled the creation of multi-billion dollar global businesses — and yielded mixed results.
Now I won’t deny that a healthy lifestyle is key to combating the aging process. But if you’ve been looking for a “miracle in a bottle,” you can forget about it. If you are concerned about growing old gracefully all you need… is a pet.
Survey reveals importance of companion animals as we grow older
According to a recent article on webmd.com, the extrapolated data from latest National Poll on Healthy Aging indicates that more than half of American adults age 50 to 80 have a pet — and most of them say pet ownership has significant benefits.
- 88 percent of survey participants said their pet helps them enjoy life
- 86 percent said their pet makes them feel loved
- 79 percent said their pet reduces their stress
- 73 percent said owning a pet gives them a sense of purpose
- 65 percent said it helped them connect with other people
- 62 percent said it helped them stick to a routine
Furthermore, more than 60 percent of all survey participants said their pet helps them stay physically active, with nearly 80 percent of dog owners saying that is the case. Finally, nearly 60 percent of participants said “their pets help them cope with the physical and emotional symptoms of aging,” and more than 30 percent said having a pet “their pets take their mind off their pain.”
However, not all of the survey participants have or want pets; and some of those who do voiced significant concern about pet ownership.
- Roughly 42 percent of survey participants who don’t have pets said they “didn’t want to be tied down by the responsibility of owning an animal.”
- 23 percent said they didn’t want a pet because of the associated expenses.
- 20 percent said they “didn’t have time.”
Of those who have pets, more than 50 percent said pet ownership complicates travel and similar activities, and “one in five said pet care puts a strain on their budget.” Alarmingly, 6 percent reported falls or injuries caused by their pets.
“The vast majority of our respondents did experience positive effects on their health and well-being from their pets, but we did verify there are some less common negative effects associated with having pets as well,” said Mary Janevic, an assistant research scientist with the University of Michigan School of Public Health.
An important note about methodology
The findings are based on responses from a “nationally representative sample” of 2,051 adults, aged 50 to 80. The University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation conducted the survey; and the AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center sponsored it.