My favorite people are the Elderly. What a Wonderful thing you are doing, and the pics just show joy all around. Good for our Breed and good for the ones there
Nursing Home Residents Prefer Visits with Dogs, without People
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Jan. 9, 2006 – A professional study in 2002 found that "animal-assisted therapy can effectively reduce the loneliness of residents in long-term care facilities. There have been several studies since supporting positive results with animals visiting elderly patients. A new study by the same researcher, however, has a new twist. Nursing home residents feel much less lonely after spending time alone with a dog than they did when they visited with a dog and other people.
This new Saint Louis University study shows there is some truth in the old cliché that describes a dog as “man’s best friend.”
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"Or at least a less aggravating friend,” said study author William A. Banks, M.D., professor of geriatrics in the department of internal medicine and professor of pharmacological and physiological sciences at Saint Louis University School of Medicine.
The research will be published in the March 2006 issue of Anthrozoos..
“It was a strange finding,” said Banks, who also is a staff physician at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Louis. “We had thought that the dog acts as a social lubricant and increases the interaction between the residents. We expected the group dog visits were going to work better, but they didn’t.
“The residents found a little quiet time with the pooch is a lot nicer than spending time with a dog and other people,” he said.
Thirty-seven nursing home residents who scored high on a loneliness scale said they wanted to receive weekly, 30-minute visits from dogs. Half spent time alone with the dog, and the other half spent time with one to three other nursing home residents and the dog. While both groups felt less lonely, the group that had one-on-one quality time with the dog experienced a much more significant decrease in loneliness after five to six weeks of visits.
The main way pets reduce loneliness in nursing homes is simply by being with people, not by enhancing socialization between people – for instance, giving nursing home residents something to talk about or an experience to share, Banks said.
“There is no need for a dog to be a social lubricant or icebreaker in a nursing home. Residents live with each other, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with each other, play bingo with each other,” Banks says. “The study also found that the loneliest individuals benefited the most from visits with dogs.”
It was Banks, too, who did the study in 2002 with Marian R. Banks, that was published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences
Their study found that even one AAT session of 30 minutes per week was effective in reducing loneliness to a statistically significant degree.
They did note that AAT worked with those who "wish to receive such therapy."
"The study also found that a large number of residents in these facilities have strong life-history of relationships with pets as an intimate part of their support system and, if given a choice, would continue that relationship," the doctors added.
The demographics of participants in 2002 were typical of long-term care residents: women, widowed, and older than 75 years of age. Of the 45 study participants, only two did not have pets during their childhood. The non-participating residents in the long-term care facility also had had pets during childhood.
One of the more interesting findings in this study was the spontaneous recollection of childhood pets by the residents. Participants would talk to their therapy animals about past events with their former pets. For example, one resident spoke to the dog and asked if the dog had gone hunting. She remembered fondly how her pet dog would catch squirrels and rabbits and bring them to her.