A new study shows that robotic pet cats can help adults with dementia improve their behavioral symptoms.
Can robotic copies of our “furry companions” provide mental health benefits in addition to providing emotional support to the elderly? According to a new study, robotic pet cats can also aid seniors with dementia enhance their happiness and memory.
Pet therapy, often known as animal-assisted therapy, involves a person and a trained animal engaging in a directed relationship. This method is most commonly employed with cats and dogs, but it has also been utilized with horses, guinea pigs, and even fish, and it frequently necessitates the assistance of the animals’ handlers.
According to Florida Atlantic University (FAU), this strategy has been known as a “cost-effective and therapeutic intervention” for improving mood and behavior in older persons. People with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias (ADRD), who are more likely to develop psychological and behavioral symptoms, are commonly prescribed antipsychotic drugs, which might have negative side effects.
A team of researchers tested the effectiveness of “non-pharmacological therapeutic interactive pet (TIP),” in this case interactive robotic pet cats, to improve the mood/behavior and cognition of 12 people with mild to moderate dementia who were attending adult day centers for their study, which was published in the journal Issues in Mental Health Nursing (ADC).
The participants were aware that the pets were robots, and they were given the opportunity to name their pet, which came with its own collar and personalized nametag.
The participants’ mood and behavior, as well as their cognition, were examined over the course of 12 sessions, and researchers discovered that the robotic pet cats actually helped them improve their mood scores over time. More than half of the individuals improved their cognition scores “with small to moderate improvement in attention/calculation, language, and registering,” according to the study. “These robotic pet cats offered our participants with an alternate way to express themselves in addition to boosting mood, behaviors, and cognition,” study co-author Lisa Kirk Weise said in an FAU news statement. “Importantly, enhancing general mood and behavior in people with Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementias may also enhance carers’ and family members’ quality of life.” Participants interacted with their artificial pets by smiling and talking to them, for example. The researchers found that some people said things like “the cat is looking at me like someone who listens to me and loves me.”
“Participants touched and talked to their pets frequently. “Several family members noted that after the program ended, participants slept with their pets,” they stated. The Washington Newsday Brief News is a good place to start.