Raye Elaine, BCPA
Robotic Pets for Dementia Patients
We have all heard how beneficial pets can be for overall health. A study conducted by the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions showed that animal assisted therapy (AAT) was shown to have “helped heart and lung function by lowering pressures, diminishing release of harmful hormones and decreasing anxiety among hospitalized heart failure patients”. The study showed that spending just twelve minutes with a dog produced health benefits.
However, often it is not possible for people to have live pets or access to pet therapy dogs. Enter Robotic Pets. I have to say I was skeptical, however it turns out that these robotic pets are actually quite effective as surrogate pets, having several beneficial effects.
This is somewhat of a long article but worth reading, especially the stories of how these dementia patients reacted to the pets. Very touching.
"Resident B has difficulty with word finding and verbal expression. When she has difficulty with speaking, she tends to shut down. She will respond with facial expressions but does not speak.
Resident B has her own personal robotic dog purchased by her family and it is the most well loved animal I have seen to date. Often health care staff would place the dog with her in bed when she is taking a nap. One day, I came into her room to visit one on one and found Resident B singing “I love you” in an operatic voice to the dog."
From the Joy for All: Companion Pets