Loneliness in old age is not an easy topic. Seniors can also get companionship from their pets. But who do older people feel less lonely with: a dog or a cat?
Various studies have now shown what many owners have known for a long time: Pets are just good for us. For example, dogs can positively affect our lifespan. Our four-legged friends are also true mood enhancers for our psyche: they make us feel less stressed and happy.
These are all positive effects that are of course beneficial for people of all ages. Many pet owners report, especially during pandemics, how much their cats and dogs are helping them. Unfortunately, as a risk group, it is the elderly who suffer from isolation and its psychological consequences.
How can pets help older people cope with loneliness, and which ones are especially good for it? Psychologist Stanley Coren asked himself this question. He found the answer in the form of a recent study from Japan, which involved nearly 1,000 people between the ages of 65 and 84. The researchers wanted to find out if retirees who have a dog or cat are psychologically better than those without pets.
This Pet is Ideal for Retirees
For this, the general state of health and the degree of social isolation were investigated using two questionnaires. Result: older people with dogs are better. Socially isolated retirees who do not own and have never owned a dog are most likely to experience negative psychological consequences.
On the other hand, in the study, dog owners were only half as likely to have a negative mental state.
Regardless of age, gender, income, and other living conditions, dog owners are psychologically better at coping with social isolation. Scientists have not been able to find a similar effect in cats.
In other words, cats and dogs certainly have their own benefits. But when it comes to loneliness, dogs can be the best antidote.