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The benefits of pet ownership to the elderly are enormous. They can vary from simple but invaluable companionship, to a positive link between the owner and the outside world.
Studies into pets and elderly people have revealed the importance of shared companionship and responsibility. For pet-owning elderly persons, particularly those living alone, it is an answer to the monotony and loneliness, which might otherwise shadow their lives.
It is not only the elderly, though; who owe so much to the presence of pets. Psychiatrists willingly prescribe the adoption of a pet to combat depression, inactivity, neurosis and stress.
In the case of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer's disease or other dementia-related syndromes, the presence of pets, and particularly cats, could bring a potential benefit. This was underlined in a research "Cats in psychogeriatric nursing homes": a blessing for residents, caregivers and cats", Marie-JosÃ© Enders-Slegers (University of Utrecht, Netherlands)
A nation-wide study led in France among retirement homes showed that the presence of an animal has a positive impact on residents. The most frequently mentioned qualities are affection (92 %), keeping guard (72 %), mobility (57 %). Ref : "Animals in Old Peoples' homes as a Symbol of Quality of Life" (Pascal Champvert, president ADEIIPA).