The relationship between elderly people, health and pet ownership still isn’t well understood, but some studies have shown potential benefits to seniors who have a furry friend around the house. Salvatore Giaquinto, M.D., of the San Raffaele Pisana Rehabilitation Center in Rome, published a study last year that analyzed more than 4years of research. He found consistent evidence that pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, provides protection against cardiovascular problems in older adults. Other research has shown that owning a pet may help older adults better cope with stressful and traumatic events in their life. (Not all studies support this evidence.) In general, researchers say it’s likely animal companionship could play a role in keeping seniors active and physically healthy and that pets may even be able to help relieve loneliness as well as symptoms of depression and dementia.