A new study suggests getting that cute dog in one's more mature years might be a good idea after all.
Researchers from the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, found that pet ownership can be associated with slower rates of developing dementia.
The study, published on Tuesday in JAMA Network Open, determined that owning a pet made a difference in verbal memory and fluency among adults who lived alone.
The study's author, professor Ciyong Lu, said in the study that slower rates of declining verbal memory and fluency were seen in those who lived alone — but not in those who lived with others.
"Pet ownership offset the associations between living alone and declining rates [of] verbal memory and verbal fluency," he said.
Researchers found that owning a pet helps those with dementia. (Photo by Christoph Soeder/picture alliance via Getty Images)
The research involved more than 7,900 participants over the age of 50, with roughly 35% of them owning pets and 27% of them living alone.
In the study, Lu said that those living alone with a pet showed slower rates of developing signs of dementia.
"These findings suggest that pet ownership may be associated with slower cognitive decline among older adults living alone," he said.
"Contrary to living alone," the authors also wrote, "pet ownership (for example, raising dogs and cats) is related to reduced loneliness, an important risk factor for dementia and cognitive decline."
A new study found that owning a pet could be beneficial for people with signs of dementia who live alone. (Photo by: Andy Soloman/UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
Lu said that clinical trials will be necessary in order to confirm the study's findings.
Currently, more than 55 million people worldwide have dementia — with nearly 10 million new cases each year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, which is currently the 7th leading cause of death, the WHO also notes.
Early symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, being confused, losing track of time, misjudging distances, feeling anxious, experiencing personality changes, engaging in inappropriate behavior and more. (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP via
Early symptoms of dementia include forgetfulness, being confused, losing track of time, misjudging distances, feeling anxious, personality changes, inappropriate behavior and more.
There is currently no cure for dementia or for someone developing signs of dementia, but the WHO suggests that staying active and continuing to stimulate the brain may help.
Fox News Digital reached out to Lu for further comment.