The effect of animal assisted therapy on participants with dementia in a community respite program

William Stuart Pope, Morgan Yordy, Chih-hsuan Wang


Cognitively impaired older adults pose challenges that include communication barriers that may contribute to social isolation of the individual and frustration by both the individual and caregivers. Healthcare professionals must to be prepared to speak to the distinctive requirements of this population. Innovative strategies are needed to improve the ability of caregivers and health professionals to establish effective communication. Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) is a complementary therapy that shows promise in providing emotional and social benefits to older adults in both clinical and community settings. This project aims to describe the benefits of incorporating AAT within a community respite program to enhance social engagement of cognitively impaired adults. In this project a group of subjects were exposed to two situations in an unsystematic order, visits with a dog and visits without a dog. The purpose was to compare each visit and its effect in improving engagement in those attending a community respite program. Throughout the study, respite attendees were encouraged to engage with dogs or the human visitor.  In this study, AAT enhanced social engagement.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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