Essay - Animal Therapy for Depression Animal Therapy with Elderly Patients for...

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Animal therapy for depression

Animal therapy with elderly patients

For many elderly citizens, the problems of aging can be compounded by depression -- an illness that affects ***** body as well ***** the mind. A major depression affects people's ability to work, study, sleep, eat ********** enjoy activities ***** they once found pleasurable. Symptoms include persistent feelings of sadness and anxiety, which can compound other physical illnesses as well.

As an alternative to pharmacological *****, more physicians and counselors are turning to animal-assisted or pet therapy ***** help ***** adults cope with the effects of depression. This paper reviews the current literature regarding ***** use of animal-assisted to ***** elderly people deal with depression.

Many of the books regarding pet ***** focus on individual stories. In Pack of Two: The *****tricate Bond Between People and Dogs, author Caroline Knapp (1998) interviews dog psychiatrists, trainers and ***** owners to discern the "mysterious" and "unknowable" link between humans and dogs. Among ***** stories Knapp includes are an excerpt about ********** therapy in a nursing home, where residents are regularly visited by dogs and cats. While interesting, much ***** the evidence that this book cites is merely anecdotal and need to be backed by research.

Thus, while the book is an ***** read, it is not a scholarly resource.

While much *****ecdotal ***** exists regarding animal-assisted therapy, there ***** few scientific studies documenting pets ***** the *****. One of the earliest studies is entitled "Intimacy, Domesticity and Pet *****rapy with the Elderly: Expectation ***** Experience Among Nursing Home Volunteers," written by Joel Sav*****hinsky (1992). In this study, the author interviewed community workers and college students who volunteered in three ***** homes in upstate New York. The volunteers in these programs were among the pioneers of bringing companion animals ***** geriatric institutions. Savishinsky ***** that both the institutional residents ***** the ***** themselves derived great satisfaction from the experience.

In ***** article "Pet therapy research: A historical review," Shirley Hooker et al (2002) trace the history ***** pet ***** back further, back to pastoral England. This article looks ***** over the 40-year history of ***** therapy in nursing *****. In addition to detailing the his*****ry ***** pet ***** in ***** homes, this article reflects the evolution of nursing in general -- from assisting physicians to modern ***** care.

The *****s note that despite initial misgivings about bringing animals into nursing homes, ***** of the animal-assisted programs have proven positive for nursing home residents, particularly ***** those who had been withdrawn and uncommunicative.

This historical survey regarding companion ***** is backed ***** numerous current studies in the use of animal-assisted *****rapy, particularly among elderly nursing ***** residents.

***** the article "Research and Reflection: Animal-Assisted Therapy in Mental Health Settings," Debra Phillips Parshall (2003) examines both ***** studies and anecdotal evidence regarding companion animals. The author includes a story ***** her grandfather, who had sound mental faculties but was *****ly incapable of taking ***** of himself. Parshall notes that after regular visits from an Airedale terrier,


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