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Pets Have Positive Impact On Mental Health For Older LGBT Community

A 2018 report issued by Loyola Marymount University in conjunction with Loyola Law School shows that having a pet, especially dogs, can have a positive impact on the mental health of older members of the LBGT community.

The report goes on to say that pets can help LGBT older adults remain physically active and engaged in their communities, which promotes mental and physical health.

Investigators collaborated with 11 community organizations across the United States and surveyed 2,560 LGBT midlife and older adults aged 50 and older.

According to information released by the United States Census Bureau in 2014, the population of people over the age of 65 is becoming more diverse and is growing steadily, with estimates that it will double by 2050.

Historically, the LGBT community has been under studied, which has resulted in inadequate services, elevated health risks and a need for more research.

“Having a pet may be particularly important for LGBT older adults, given their higher rates of depression, disability, and loneliness compared to heterosexual peers,” the report says.

Researchers found that half of older gay men live alone, as compared to 13.4 percent of straight men, and about a third of older gay men are married or living with a partner, as compared to three quarters of their straight counterparts.

In the United States, the role of companion animals is growing. As much as 68 percent of U.S. households’ own pets. The role pf pets, the report says, increases people’s perception of social support.

“Pets appear to make a unique contribution to helping fulfill their adopters’ needs related to belongingness and meaningful existence. In other words, consistent with prior research findings, pets seem to complement rather than substitute for human support,” the report reads.

This is especially true for members of the LGBT community, research shows. “Having a pet may be more significant for LGBT older adults in providing companionship, support, and affection when their networks are otherwise limited,” according to the report.

Ultimately, the report concludes that pets can enhance the feelings of social support for people with disabilities and limited social networks, especially members of the LGBT community.

Photo by Zen Chung from Pexels

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