In the US, one in three older adults die with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. Currently, there is no cure for the rapidly growing burden, but there are pharmacological treatments to manage the symptoms, which lead to numerous side effects. We tested the effectiveness of a non-pharmacological therapeutic interactive pet (TIP) in improving mood/behavior and cognition among 12 persons with mild-moderate dementia attending an adult day center (ADC) over 12 visits. Mood/behavioral symptoms were assessed using the Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Mood Scale (AD-RD), Observed Emotion Rating Scale (OERS), and the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia (CSDD). Cognition was assessed via Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Paired-sample t-tests, Pearson’s correlation, repeated measures t-test, and a post-intervention qualitative inquiry were used to examine the significance of TIP. As a result, all mood scores improved over time, with two showing significance: OERS (M = 73.7/SD = 9.6); conditions t(11) = −19.18, p<.001, and CSDD (M = 8.8/SD = 7.2); conditions t(11) = 4.12, p =.002. Over half (0.67%) scored higher on the MMSE post-test than the pretest: M = 10.7(SD = 5.5) and M = 12.2(SD = 7.1), respectively. Participants stroked and spoke often to their pets. Several family members reported participants sleeping with their pet following the program’s conclusion. TIP proved to be a safe alternative method to improving mood/behavior in persons with dementia attending an ADC. MMSE scores also improved, although confounding factors such as inter-rater reliability and a potential endorphin effect may have impacted scores.
|Publication Title||Issues in Mental Health Nursing|
|Publisher||Taylor & Francis|
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