• Jun 22, 2020

Numerous researches proved that communication with animals does well to people of any age. As animals can help to elderly people?

Elderly Person and Dog Terrier of a Photo
of the Photo: pikrepo.com

of the Research in nursing homes

Though media in every possible way support the idea that communication with animals well influences elderly people, not so many scientific were carried out researches on this subject. In particular, because they are connected with ethical problems: one group of elderly people is given something good, and another – no. Therefore scientists went to a trick: in nursing homes where animals were part of "habitat", they tried to find out: whether there are improvements in health of inhabitants? I.e. the question was studied not "bluntly" (as animals directly influence improvement of health), and indirectly.

One of such researches was conducted by Winkler, Fairnie, Gericevich and Long. They found out that emergence in nursing home of a dog became the catalyst social interaction of inhabitants among themselves. However this effect was short-term also came to naught in 3 months.

So it is impossible to tell that only animals can change house realities aged, however they can be useful.

However, doctor Thomas, the chief physician of one of nursing homes, in 1994. proved that animals are extremely important. He created nursing home with absolutely new "environment": included in it flower beds, kitchen gardens, animals and communication with children (school and preschool age). The nursing home received the name "Edem's alternative". There live about 100 birds (parrots, nerazluchnik, chaffinches and canaries) and also 2 dogs and 4 cats who freely move on territories and the whole day communicate with elderly people. In the territory also live rabbits and hens, and doctor Thomas found out that than more various and complex is an environment, the potential for substantial is more interactions.

To check efficiency of this approach, doctor Thomas compared health of inhabitants of "Alternariva Edem" with control group – inhabitants of the next, usual nursing home. Both groups were similar on to age and background. After 2 years of life in "Edem's Alternative" at its inhabitants considerably use of psychotropic drugs decreased. And quantity of death it was 15% less, than in control group. And the farther, the more considerably there was a difference.

Doctor Thomas is sure that inhabitants of "Edem's Alternative" live longer not because they it is initially healthier, but also because they have a meaning of life. As the scientist it does not claim that the person cannot live without parrot, but as the doctor came to a conclusion that obligations of the patient in relation to wards animal "poured out" in strong desire to live that to care for them.

Developing the ideas of doctor Thomas, Cookman (1996) assumed that attachment elderly people to things, places, animals and thoughts of the environment – important source of safety, accessory and self-identification.

of the Research in communities

Elderly people who rent housing often have no right to get pets. To change rent policy, it is necessary to conduct researches which will increase understanding of potential advantage and the nature relations between elderly people and their animals.

Scientists studied group of socially isolated elderly women living in own houses (Allen, Gross and Izzo). Estimated the level of blood pressure in condition of rest at the beginning of the research and in 6 months. In comparison with the control group without animals, at owners of animals noted much more low blood pressure. In addition, elderly owners of animals with small the number of social contacts had pressure comparable with pressure of young people women. Participants had cats or dogs and though the difference was not revealed in dependences on a species of an animal, the attachment to was very important factor to animal. Conclusions: though elevated pressure is normal for this age, social support from people and/or animals can reduce hypertension.

Other research was directed to studying of a house situation of elderly people with and without dogs (Dembicki and Anderson). In this research it was found, that owners of dogs walked much longer, than not - owners. Besides, increase in walks was associated with much lower level of cholesterol. Authors of this research are social workers who assume that in context of growing and aging communication with an animal can be additional support.

The research concerning the elderly people living in rural areas (Lago, Delayney, Miller and Grill) found out that the attitude towards animals and possession animal were noticeable prerequisites of positive psychological state and health.

In the decimestrial research conducted after adults received animals, Serpell found decrease in quantity of problems with health in 1 month. At owners of dogs this effect remained on an extent all research, it is also possible to assume that animals influence experience stress.

At last, in the research Peretti friendly relations between elderly were studied people and their animals. Data collection for this research occupied more than 10 months. All participants walked the dogs in the public park, and then answered questions. The open questionnaire was directed to identifications of personal attachments and attitude towards animals. The big percent of participants came to light, which spoke about the dogs as about the only friends (78% of men and 67% women) and that their friendly relations with dogs are also strong, as well as with people. They said that dogs provide to them: (1) Friendship; (2) Emotional communication; (3) Advantage; (4) Fidelity; and (5) Unconditional acceptance. They said that communication with dogs is deprived of unnecessary comments and social transactions, in difference from communication with people. This research made a big contribution to understanding and assessment values of dogs in life of elderly people who often feel isolated. It turned out that animals satisfy psychological needs of their owners in attachment and care. Though the research did not consider in quality indicator the state of health, considering that it is known of communication social support and health, its conclusions are very important.

Source: Pleasure from their society: Animals partners and human health. Karen Allen, Medical faculty, the State University of New York in Buffalo

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