Research

CSU in the Science of Aging Literature

Animal Assisted Therapy:

Abstract: 
Institutional facilities face challenges providing experiences to residents with dementia that promote participation in meaningful activities. Guided by the Lived Environment Life Quality Model, this study investigated associations between 9 different activity situations—one an equine-assisted activities program (EAAP)—and positive, negative, and neutral behavioral indicators of quality of life (QoL) in 6 residents with dementia who expressed an interest in horses. Direct observational data were collected for 4 hours twice weekly over 8 weeks. Using w2 tests, differences across activity situations were tested. More positive patterns of time use (conversation; w2 ¼ 44.3, P < .001) and emotional well-being (pleasure; w2 ¼ 21.8, P ¼ .001) were found in EAAP compared to other activity situations. Further, EAAP was the only activity situation associated with all positive QoL indicators. These findings add to our understanding the importance of providing meaningful activities that promote use of abilities and provide environmental support, for enhancing QoL, especially for institutionalized people with dementia.

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Purpose:  Establishing acceptability of complex interventions to stakeholders is vital in early scientific development. The purpose of this paper is to ascertain the acceptability of a program of equine-assisted activities (EAAP) for people with dementia by elucidating programmatic practices needed to enhance their safety and quality of life (QoL) from the perspectives of service providers.

Design/methodology/approach: Semi-structured interviews with five providers were analyzed using a basic qualitative approach.

Findings: Providers perceived the EAAP as acceptable and revealed potential mechanisms of change supporting well-being, including aspects related to the physical and social environment and person with dementia. Linkages identified among the EAAP and its physical and social context support its complexity. Providers explicated program practices that promoted safety and QoL, such as implementing staff trainings and tailoring activities to each person’s preferences and needs. These practices aligned with best dementia care approaches, underscoring that the EAAP is a promising complex intervention that merits further scientific development.

Originality/value: This work is novel and adds to the literature by illuminating the role of a community-based, animal-assisted program for enhancing the QoL of older adults with dementia residing in institutional care facilities.

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Abstract:
Institutional facilities face challenges providing experiences to residents with dementia that promote participation in meaningful activities. Guided by the Lived Environment Life Quality Model, this study investigated associations between 9 different activity situations—one an equine-assisted activities program (EAAP)—and positive, negative, and neutral behavioral indicators of quality of life (QoL) in 6 residents with dementia who expressed an interest in horses. Direct observational data were collected for 4 hours twice weekly over 8 weeks. Using χ² tests, differences across activity situations were tested. More positive patterns of time use (conversation; χ² = 44.3, P < .001) and emotional well-being (pleasure; χ² = 21.8, P = .001) were found in EAAP compared to other activity situations. Further, EAAP was the only activity situation associated with all positive QoL indicators. These findings add to our understanding the importance of providing meaningful activities that promote use of abilities and provide environmental support, for enhancing QoL, especially for institutionalized people with dementia.

Read the full publication >>

CSU Faculty Conducting Research on Aging

A key goal of the center is to bring together faculty working on cutting edge research in topics related to healthy aging. Currently, more than 50 faculty in 11 departments across 3 colleges at Colorado State University are working in aging research. Search CSU faculty conducting research on aging.

Healthy Cognitive Aging Lab

The Healthy Cognitive Aging Lab, which is located within the College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University, works to identify and evaluate factors that promote healthy age-related cognitive changes, serve as early indicators of cognitive decline, and reduce the risk of developing dementia.  Visit the Healthy Cognitive Aging Lab website.