Furry friends ease depression, loneliness after spousal loss

Posted on September 6, 2019

Depression and feelings of loneliness are common in older adults who are grieving over the loss of their partners due to death or separation. Prior studies have found that having a strong social support network acts as a buffer against the negative emotions that arise from losing one’s spouse. In order to further investigate if there are any other methods that might help individuals deal with the loss of their loved one.

The study first looked at the differences in the psychological wellbeing of people who stayed together with their spouse and those who lost their partners. Subsequently, they examined the implications of spousal loss on individuals with or without a pet.

The results indicated that all individuals who had experienced the loss of their spouse showed greater depressive symptoms. Interestingly, individuals who own a pet are not lonelier than those who did not suffer from the absence of their spouse. People who do not have a pet were found to have more depressive symptoms and felt lonelier than those who own pets.

Most people have a rather intimate relationship with their spouse, and much of their identity is related to their connection with their partner. The loss of a spouse can often cause individuals to feel devastated. It is during such hard times that having a pet could help in shouldering the burden of losing a loved one. Someone who owns a pet would feel that they are still needed and have something that they can continue giving their love to.

These findings may bring about more ideas for social policies, such as introducing companion animals to older adults who live alone after the loss of their spouse.

Category(s):Grief, Loss, Bereavement

Source material from Science Daily

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