"To our knowledge, our study is the first to consider the effect of duration of pet ownership on cognitive health"
Having a company of a pet friend may protect you from memory loss in later life and other kinds of cognitive decline, finds a new study.
The preliminary research found that pet ownership was especially beneficial for working verbal memory, such as memorisation of word lists, reports CNN.
"To our knowledge, our study is the first to consider the effect of duration of pet ownership on cognitive health," first author Jennifer Applebaum, a sociology doctoral candidate and National Institute of Health predoctoral fellow at University of Florida, was quoted as saying by CNN in an email.
"And it is not just cats and dogs that can boost the brain. People in the study also cared for rabbits, hamsters, birds, fish and reptiles, Applebaum said, although "dogs were most prevalent, followed by cats," Applebaum added.
Owning household pets for five years or more produced the most benefit, delaying cognitive decline by 1.2 points over the six-year period of the study compared with the rate of decline in people without pets, the study, to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 74th Annual Meeting, indicated.
For the study, the team analysed cognitive data on more than 1,300 adults who participated in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study tracking the lives of Americans age 50 and older.
"Having a pet or multiple pets combines many core components of a brain-healthy lifestyle," said Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer's Prevention Clinic in the Center for Brain Health at Florida Atlantic University's Schmidt College of Medicine.
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