The presence of dogs slows the Alzheimer’s disease
Bayer Animal Health Italy supports scientific study
Pets can alleviate stress and improve health. Especially dogs can help to retard the progression of Alzheimer's Disease. This is the result of a study carried out by professor Aldo Bono – the vice president of AIMA (Italian Alzheimer's Association). The study was supported by Bayer Animal Health Italy.
“We have achieved a decisive moment in pet therapy”, said Professor Aldo Bono. The empirical study was supported by the Foundation Molina in collaboration with Varese Alzheimer/AIMA, the Province of Varese as well as by Bayer HealthCare-Division Animal Health. The research involved thirteen specialists who had divided a sample of people with Alzheimer's Disease disorders into two groups of patients with homogeneous characteristics. The first group was exposed to experimental treatment of therapy, the other used as a "control group". “The aim was to retard the progression of the disease and to improve the patients’ mood and their long forgotten skills”, said Mara Pinciroli, the medical head of the pet therapy study.
The support from “Fiona”, “Tito”, “Candy”, “Raji” and “Maya” were crucial for the success of the study. The dogs encouraged the patients to feed and to play with them and they succeeded in reactivating long forgotten skills. The choice of breeds to use was not random: The scientists preferred four specific breeds, as for example Border Collies, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever and Weimaraner. “They have more than others, the optimal characteristics of learning, intelligence and docility and can handle all kinds of situations very well”, said Valentina Chiarelli, the head of the pet therapy. The dogs had been trained and accustomed to patients suffering from Alzheimer’ Disease long before. The trainers prepared the dogs for the pet therapy with special games and exercises since their puppy age.
At the end of the eight-week long trial, the team of doctors, psychologists and trainers welcomed the outcome of the pet therapy study. The cognitive ability of the patients as well as their basic life skills had substantially improved. Furthermore, mutual interaction between patients with Alzheimer’s Disease had increased. “There is no doubt that the patients remembered the name of the dogs very easily but not the names of the trainers. That was an essential thing to learn with regard to the cognitive performance of people living with Alzheimer’s Disease”, said Valentina Chiarelli. Compared to the group without dogs, the patients who had been with dogs also improved their mental well-being. It became apparent that the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease did not worsen sharply. “I am convinced that the quality of life for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be improved by a pet therapy”, said Professor Aldo Bono. For that reason Bayer Health Care-Division Animal Health intends to keep on supporting experimental research on pet therapy.
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