Psychogeriatrics. 2011 Jun;11(2):125-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2010.00329.x. Epub 2010 Sep 14.
Pet therapy in elderly patients with mental illness.
To evaluate the effects of pet therapy on cognitive function, mood and perceived quality of life on elderly inpatients (mean age 84.7 years; 95.2% women) affected by dementia, depression and psychosis.
Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and 15-items Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) were administered to 10 patients (pet group) and 11 controls (control group) together with a self-perceived quality-of-life questionnaire, before and after a pet therapy intervention that lasted 6 weeks. MMSE and GDS mean scores were compared between and within groups by Student's t-test.
Both the pet group and control group improved on GDS and MMSE. Within the pet group, GDS symptoms decreased by 50% (from 5.9 to 2.7, P= 0.013), whereas mean MMSE score increased by 4.5 (P= 0.060). The between group comparison showed a positive effect of pet therapy intervention on GDS (P= 0.070). Most of the participants reported an improvement of their perceived quality of life.
Pet therapy is efficient in improving depressive symptoms and cognitive function in residents of long-term care facilities with mental illness.
© 2011 The Authors; Psychogeriatrics © 2011 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society.