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The survey finds that one in ten adults has ever acquired a “pandemic pet.”

A previous survey showed the health and wellness benefits of pet ownership for people over the age of 50

Much attention on “epidemic animals” has focused on families with children getting a cat, dog or other pet in 2020, at a time when many people were learning or working from home.

But a new survey shows that older people are also entering this trend.

According to the National Survey on Healthy Aging, 10% of all people between the ages of 50 and 80 acquired a new pet between March 2020 and January 2021.

The proportion was actually higher – 16% – among people in this age group who had at least one child or teenager with whom they lived. But the vast majority of people between the ages of 50 and 80 don’t live with someone under the age of 18 – and about 9% of them also got a pet during the pandemic.

Altogether, 59% of people between the ages of 50 and 80 who completed the survey in January 2021 are pet owners. Of those who said in January they were pet owners, 17% had acquired at least one pet since the pandemic began. The survey did not ask if this was the first pet or an additional pet.

Pet ownership was higher among those between the ages of 50 and 64, women, white participants and those who lived in separate single-family homes or worked. 12 percent of employed elderly people said they have had a pet since March 2020.

The survey is conducted at the University of Michigan Institute for Health Care Policy and Innovation and receives support from AARP and Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan Academic Medical Center.

The new data is an update to a previous report by the survey team, published in April 2019. This full report showed that elderly people say owning a pet helps them enjoy life, reduce stress, feel a sense of purpose and stick to a routine. , In addition to communicating with other people and being physically active, especially for dog owners. Among the elderly who lived alone or were in fair or poor health when taking the 2019 survey, nearly three-quarters of them said their pets helped them overcome physical or emotional symptoms.

Among those who live alone, the percentage that has a pet jumped 12 points between the sample reported in 2019 and the sample in January 2021. The role of pets as companions for elderly people living alone is an important one, especially during a pandemic when many elderly people stayed in Home because of the high risk of them contracting the severe COVID-19 virus if they contract the Coronavirus.

Poll director Preeti Malani, MD, has first-hand experience of getting a “pandemic puppy” to join her family, which includes a home-schooled high school student. It is the first time they have ever owned any kind of pet.

Malani notes that her new family dog, on the one hand, has demanded more attention than they expected – especially considering she and her husband are busy with doctors who remotely work face-to-face with patients. But on the other hand, walking, playing and cuddling with the dog was a welcome distraction during stressful times.

“Solly was a great addition,” she says. “He makes sure we go out every day. I have also met many other dog owners in the neighborhood.”

Wendy Welch, director of communications, says the animal shelter closest to the University of Michigan, the Humane Society of Huron Valley, has seen high adoption rates in the past year.

“We are excited to see not only worthy animals get homes, but also to see people get the much-needed unconditional love, too,” she says. “While grandparents were unfortunately separated from hugging their grandchildren, furry friends were just fine. It is well documented that pets can help lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety and improve symptoms of depression. Of particular importance during this isolated epidemic, companion animals avoid Certainly the silent killer: feeling lonely. We are very grateful to the elderly who opened their hearts and homes to house animals during this time. “

The survey data from January comes from a sample of 2019 people, and is similar in size to the sample mentioned in the previous PET report.

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