Animal assisted therapy (AAT) is a form of therapy whereanimals are used for the treatment of people who deal with social, physical, mentaland emotional stress. Animals can beuseful for motivational effectiveness of the patients. Mostly this type oftherapy is used in nursing homes and elderly patients who benefit from it. Animal assistedtherapy teams that consist of a certified therapy animal and a trained handler.Therapy teams visit hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living centers, andother similar facilities to help the elderly patients to get a recovery. AAT patients maywalk therapy animals, play with them, feed them or groom them. Some therapyanimals are trained to sit quietly and attentively and become the companions ofthe elderly patients .
This therapy is usually offered in a range of settings,including retirement living, community care, residential aged care homes,rehabilitation centers, and in a senior’s own home. Animals used for thetherapy can range from domesticated pets to beautiful farm animals. Dependingon the needs of the patient, many different animals can be used in therapy,including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits etc. AAT helps in creating a strongbond between animals and the patients. The aim of this research is to find out thebenefits that are achieved by AAT in nursing homes and for elderly patients andwhich all disorders can be cured by this therapy.METHODOLOGY-This research includesarticles from PubMed, and other reliable sources , also the articles that are basedon research conducted using animals certified for AAT and have been evaluatedby professional trainer or veterinarian as only use of well-trained animals canbe considered as AAT. The study also includes AAT used for treatment ofdementia, depression, etc.
in elderly patients .This research excludes thearticles that were based on animal assisted therapy related to children and middle-aged people ,articles that included the use of female animal in season andnon-human primate due to their aggressive behavior and also those articles thatincludes patients presented with allergy or aversion towards animals .The studyalso excluded the articles that were more than 10 years old since publicationin order to provide the most recent information.FINDINGS-Many of thestudies proved that AAT has a very strong positive influence in nursing homesand on elderly patients such as in improving fine motor skills ,increasing ones self-esteem ,the ability to care for oneself,reducing blood pressure , heart attack or stroke , anxiety, grief , isolationand improving the quality of social interaction .
Studies shows that animalssuch as dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits ,cats, birds, fishes etc. help the patientsto remain active across seasons by promoting their physical activity. Theseanimals become a source of companionship, affection and joy for the patients.Most of the recent studies showed the use of animals with elderly patients whohave been alleviated to manifestations of cognitive disorders .The elderlypatients with variety of disorders are benefited by this therapy and among themare the patients who suffer from dementia and depression . Several investigationshave piloted the use of animals in the treatment of depression of elderlypatients.
One small trial showed even a brief intervention that conferred somebenefit ,thirty-five individuals who were about to receive electroconvulsivetherapy (ECT) spent 15 minutes with a dog or the same period of time readingmagazines before ECT treatment sessions . All subjects had both types ofpretreatment every other day. Individuals reported lower levels of fear aboutthe upcoming ECT rated on visual analogue scales when they had sessions withthe dog.
In a similar trial, forty-two depressed patients spent time waitingfor ECT in rooms with or without aquariums. The presence of aquariums did notinfluence the pretreatment anxiety, fear, or depressive symptoms the patientsexperienced. With the help of this AAT animals provide intangible benefits tothe mental health of older persons, such as relief social isolation and boredomon behavior in demented persons. Animals could also help alleviate problematicbehaviors in demented individuals such as improving their ability to socialize,since animals are accepting, andnon-judgmental, it helps these elderly patients to open up their minds andrelieve their pain.
Animals have a positive influence on the behavior ofdemented elderly owners. In one comparison survey, demented pet owners wereless likely to exhibit verbal aggression but were otherwise similar to non-petowners in likelihood of vegetative, hyperactive, or psychotic behaviors .One ofan investigation also explored the effects of animals on these demented elderlyindividuals. A dementia unit for US veterans piloted the use of a pet dog toelicit for socialization. Twelve demented patients exhibited a significantlarger number of social behaviors, such as smiling or speaking in the presenceof the dog, implying that animals might create benefit apart from any effect oncognition .Several investigations of the effect of pets on physical healthsuggest animals can lower blood pressure, and dog walkers partake in morephysical activity.
Dog walking, in epidemiological studies and few preliminarytrials, is associated with lower complication risk among patients withcardiovascular disease. Around two-thirds of all US households and close tohalf of elderly people own animals. One of the study showed that usage ofbirds, conferred psychological benefits to cognitively unimpaired olderindividuals; 144 persons without cognitive impairment in nursing homes in Italywere exposed to either a canary, a plant, or neither of the two .Theindividuals assigned to care for a canary or plant were provided with careinstructions and participated in a three-month intervention, the details ofwhich were not specified in the paper. Subjects who cared for the bird hadsignificantly better scores at the end of the intervention on subscales ofpsychological symptoms. Around Two-thirds of all US households and close tohalf of elderly individuals own pets. Investigations involving pets other thandogs and birds also shows to improve the health of older individuals that haveinvolved many species, including guinea pigs ,cats, and manufacturedsimulations of animals.
CONCLUSION-Based on the findings this research comes to the conclusionthat Animal-assisted therapy is designed to promote improvement in humanphysical, social, emotional, or cognitive function, and shows a great benefitin nursing homes and elderly patients. Thistype of therapy is associated with reduced state anxiety levels for elderly patientswith a variety of psychiatric diagnoses. AAT has been also found verybeneficial for older people with disorders such as Depression which is afeeling of sadness and loss of interest in doing things and Dementia which isthe loss of memory that creates behavioral and psychological problems. Thistherapy helps in making these patients feel good and ease their loneliness, stressand depression and improve their health. Animals can act as a support system innursing homes and for elderly patients who don’t have any family, or closefriends.