10:00 AM

Pet Ownership Promotes Healthy Aging

Nationwide, Cigna collaborate to reach older adults with resources to reap the personal health benefits of owning and caring for a pet

We all love our pets, and our pets love us, and that symbiotic relationship provides a myriad of benefits beyond cozy companionship. In fact, scientific research demonstrates a link between human-animal interaction and healthy aging.

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) compiled a number of studies about the power of animal connections which found that engaging with pets is valuable for improving both physical and mental health, so much so that 74% of doctors surveyed said, if they could, they would prescribe a pet to improve the overall health of their patients.

For seniors, owning, interacting with and caring for a pet positively contributes towards healthy aging in a number of ways. According to a University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging that surveyed a national sample of adults age 50-80, pet owners reported that their pets:

  • Help them enjoy life (88%)
  • Make them feel loved (86%)
  • Reduce stress (79%)
  • Provide a sense of purpose (73%)
  • Help them stick to a routine (62%)
  • Connect them with other people (65%)
  • Help them be physically active (64% overall and 78% among dog owners)
  • Help them cope with physical and emotional symptoms (60% overall and up to 72% among those who lived alone and/or reported fair or poor physical health)
  • Take their mind off pain (34%)

“Thinking about things that people should do to maintain their health and support healthy aging, ‘get a pet’ belongs on that list,” said HABRI president Steven Feldman. “When health insurance providers are looking at wellness incentives and keeping costs down, pet ownership provides another way for older adults to stay healthy and save money.”

Recognizing the value pet parenting adds to human health, Nationwide and Cigna are collaborating to educate older adults about how to reap the health benefits of owning a pet and the role pet health insurance can play to give them the means to afford necessary routine and emergency care for their most precious constant companions.

“Cats, dogs, or other pets can be the difference between a healthy, active lifestyle and a socially isolated one for older Americans,” said Nationwide Chief Pet Officer Heidi Sirota. “But owning a pet means providing routine care and likely paying for some unanticipated veterinary and pharmacy bills. We believe no one should have to choose between treating their beloved pet or paying their living expenses, and pet health insurance can help budget for that care and protect you financially if a serious accident or illness needs to be treated.”

There is no question that the human-animal bond positively contributes towards healthy aging. That is why Cigna has decided to collaborate with Nationwide to highlight the health benefits of pet ownership and the importance of protecting these companions to their senior customers.

“We have three dogs and I can tell you firsthand about the important role pets play in keeping us grateful, grounded and in the moment, especially in these difficult times,” said Gary Culp, the chief growth officer for Cigna's Medicare Advantage business. “Pets are truly an important and beloved part of my family, just like they are in so many U.S. households.”

Take steps today to ensure the best health care for yourself and your special pet. Learn more about Nationwide pet insurance. Learn more about protecting your health with a Cigna health plan.