Pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing

The rise in life expectancy requires strategies to enable healthy ageing and the promotion of a high quality of life in old age | British Journal of Community Nursing

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Poor mental health including depression and social isolation can blight older people’s lives. Despite the positive benefits of physical activity for both mental and physical health, only a minority of those over 65 years are attaining the recommended levels of physical activity. The evidence relating to the benefits of pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing is set out in this article, although meeting their care needs may place an additional strain on an older person and/or their carer who has limited resources and physical capabilities.

Full reference: While, A. (2017) Pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing. British Journal of Community Nursing. Vol. 22 (no. 7)

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Genetic and environmental factors in shaping well-being

Converging evidence suggests that well-being plays an important role in promoting and maintaining mental health across the life span | Aging & Mental Health

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Background: It has been shown that well-being has a considerable heritable component, but little is known about the specific genes involved.

Methods: In this study, we investigated a healthy sample (N = 298) that was genotyped for the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR). We hypothesized that 5-HTTLPR gene variation would influence well-being, and additionally investigated interaction effects with age and the environmental influence of early life stress (ELS).

Results: Using multiple regression, our results showed a significant three-way interaction between genotype, ELS, and age. Exploration of this interaction showed that young subjects had decreased levels of well-being if they were exposed to ELS and homozygous for the short variant of 5-HTTLPR. This relationship was reversed in old age: subjects that were exposed to ELS and carried the long variant of 5-HTTLPR had decreased levels of well-being.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that genetic and environmental factors have joint effects on well-being that are susceptible to profound changes across the life span.

Full reference: Gärtner, M. et al. (2017) The interplay of genetic and environmental factors in shaping well-being across the lifespan: Evidence from the serotonin transporter gene. Aging & Mental Health. Published online: 7th July 2017