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Animal-Assisted Therapy Enhances Resident Social Interaction and Initiation in Long-Term Care Facilities

Animal-Assisted Therapy Enhances Resident Social Interaction and Initiation in Long-Term Care... Social stimulation is a valuable aspect of therapeutic activities at long-term care facilities, designed to decrease social isolation, maintain or stimulate mental abilities, and increase awareness of the external environment. A study was undertaken at two such facilities to compare the effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) with Non-Animal Therapy (NAT) at providing social stimulation, that is, at providing opportunities for patients to engage in social interaction and to initiate social behaviors. While studies have indicated that AAT can improve resident outlook or affect, few have directly studied the social behaviors that might lead to such improvements, or the role the animals themselves might play. We observed 33 patients, both alert and semi- to non-alert, during regular recreational therapy sessions. Most patients were women (29 vs. four men), and geriatric (in their 70's and 80's). Non-Animal Therapies included Arts and Crafts and Snack Bingo, while AAT involved animals from local animal shelters being brought by volunteers to group sessions. Social behaviors naturally divided into Brief Conversations, Long Conversations, and Touch. We determined frequencies and rates of the behaviors, who initiated the behaviors and whether the behaviors were directed at other people or at the animals.Overall, during AAT residents were involved in as much or more conversation with others, including the animals, as residents in Non-Animal Therapy, and were more likely to initiate and participate in longer conversations. The finding that different kinds of therapies seem to encourage different kinds of conversation might be an important consideration when investigating health benefits. The most dramatic differences between therapy types were found in rates of touch: touching the animals during AAT added significantly to resident engagement in, and initiation of, this behavior. Since touch is considered an important part of social stimulation and therapy, the enhancement of this social behavior by the animals is an important, and perhaps undervalued, effect. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Anthrozoos Taylor & Francis

Animal-Assisted Therapy Enhances Resident Social Interaction and Initiation in Long-Term Care Facilities

Anthrozoos , Volume 13 (4): 12 – Dec 1, 2000

Animal-Assisted Therapy Enhances Resident Social Interaction and Initiation in Long-Term Care Facilities

Anthrozoos , Volume 13 (4): 12 – Dec 1, 2000

Abstract

Social stimulation is a valuable aspect of therapeutic activities at long-term care facilities, designed to decrease social isolation, maintain or stimulate mental abilities, and increase awareness of the external environment. A study was undertaken at two such facilities to compare the effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) with Non-Animal Therapy (NAT) at providing social stimulation, that is, at providing opportunities for patients to engage in social interaction and to initiate social behaviors. While studies have indicated that AAT can improve resident outlook or affect, few have directly studied the social behaviors that might lead to such improvements, or the role the animals themselves might play. We observed 33 patients, both alert and semi- to non-alert, during regular recreational therapy sessions. Most patients were women (29 vs. four men), and geriatric (in their 70's and 80's). Non-Animal Therapies included Arts and Crafts and Snack Bingo, while AAT involved animals from local animal shelters being brought by volunteers to group sessions. Social behaviors naturally divided into Brief Conversations, Long Conversations, and Touch. We determined frequencies and rates of the behaviors, who initiated the behaviors and whether the behaviors were directed at other people or at the animals.Overall, during AAT residents were involved in as much or more conversation with others, including the animals, as residents in Non-Animal Therapy, and were more likely to initiate and participate in longer conversations. The finding that different kinds of therapies seem to encourage different kinds of conversation might be an important consideration when investigating health benefits. The most dramatic differences between therapy types were found in rates of touch: touching the animals during AAT added significantly to resident engagement in, and initiation of, this behavior. Since touch is considered an important part of social stimulation and therapy, the enhancement of this social behavior by the animals is an important, and perhaps undervalued, effect.

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References (22)

Publisher
Taylor & Francis
Copyright
© 2000 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC
ISSN
1753-0377
eISSN
0892-7936
DOI
10.2752/089279300786999743
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Social stimulation is a valuable aspect of therapeutic activities at long-term care facilities, designed to decrease social isolation, maintain or stimulate mental abilities, and increase awareness of the external environment. A study was undertaken at two such facilities to compare the effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) with Non-Animal Therapy (NAT) at providing social stimulation, that is, at providing opportunities for patients to engage in social interaction and to initiate social behaviors. While studies have indicated that AAT can improve resident outlook or affect, few have directly studied the social behaviors that might lead to such improvements, or the role the animals themselves might play. We observed 33 patients, both alert and semi- to non-alert, during regular recreational therapy sessions. Most patients were women (29 vs. four men), and geriatric (in their 70's and 80's). Non-Animal Therapies included Arts and Crafts and Snack Bingo, while AAT involved animals from local animal shelters being brought by volunteers to group sessions. Social behaviors naturally divided into Brief Conversations, Long Conversations, and Touch. We determined frequencies and rates of the behaviors, who initiated the behaviors and whether the behaviors were directed at other people or at the animals.Overall, during AAT residents were involved in as much or more conversation with others, including the animals, as residents in Non-Animal Therapy, and were more likely to initiate and participate in longer conversations. The finding that different kinds of therapies seem to encourage different kinds of conversation might be an important consideration when investigating health benefits. The most dramatic differences between therapy types were found in rates of touch: touching the animals during AAT added significantly to resident engagement in, and initiation of, this behavior. Since touch is considered an important part of social stimulation and therapy, the enhancement of this social behavior by the animals is an important, and perhaps undervalued, effect.

Journal

AnthrozoosTaylor & Francis

Published: Dec 1, 2000

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