Relationships and interactions between humans and animals have been observed for many years. Many of these observations have taken place in therapeutic settings and are referred to as Animal-Assisted Therapies (AAT). Previous research completed on AAT has shown positive effects on loneliness, social interaction and quality of life for residents in Long-Term Care (LTC) settings. The human-animal bond can also be identified in companionship roles, rather than therapeutic goal-setting roles, through the use of Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA). Due to being more at risk for depression and isolation, there needs to be a greater focus on the significance of animal companionship and AAA providing the same positive effects as AAT in long-term care settings. Therefore the purpose of this study was to determine if AAA programming, implemented in a long-term care facility, would improve the quality of life for residents by (1) decreasing depression, and (2) increasing mood. To measure these outcomes, two assessment instruments, the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) and Section D − Mood of the Minimum Data Set (MDS) 3.0 were administered pre and post-exposure to the AAA program. The program consisted of two one-hour sessions a week for a period of six weeks with 17 participants who were randomly split into a control (n=9) and experimental (n=8) group. Residents participated in activities requiring both direct and indirect contact with a dog. A paired samples t-test analysis was computed to determine if there was a significant difference in the means between the two groups and the effects AAA had on the incidence of depression and the elevation of mood in residents in a LTC facility. No statistical significance was found between the two groups. Although it was not the goal to conduct a qualitative protocol, there was rich qualitative data that presented itself to be analyzed (i.e., unsolicited feedback from study participants). This data provided insight to the effects of AAA on select individuals rather than the group. Future research will focus on increasing sample size as well as exploring the perceptions and experiences of LTC residents who participate in AAA using qualitative research methodology.
|Degree||Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Gerontology|
|University||Bowling Green University|
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