SAN FRANCISCO — Researchers in aging have begun noticing how pet ownership can be a boon for older adults, especially LGBT seniors who are more likely to live alone and lack family connections, the Bay Area Reporter reports.
Their findings are bolstering calls by senior advocates for policies that foster pet ownership among older adults, particularly those who live in assisted living facilities, retirement homes or rental apartments that ban pets.
“The love and affection pets bring to people are very important,” Anna Muraco, Ph.D., of the Department of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, told the Reporter.
Muraco presented her study “Life Saving in Every Way,” about the role of pets for 50-plus LGBT adults, in November, at the Gerontological Society of America annual conference. She co-authored it with Jennifer Putney, PhD, of Simmons College in Boston.
The two researchers culled through findings of the National Health, Aging and Sexuality Study: Caring and Aging with Pride Over Time. Started in 2009, it is the first national LGBT senior study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Muraco and Putney also interviewed a subsample of 59 respondents from the Los Angeles area, the Reporter article said.
Of the 1,039 LGBT senior pet owners in the national study, about half were female, and nearly half had a disability, the Bay Area Reporter said.