Magazine article USA TODAY

Caring for Horses Eases Symptoms of Dementia

Magazine article USA TODAY

Caring for Horses Eases Symptoms of Dementia

Article excerpt

In the first study of its kind, researchers have determined that spending time with horses eases symptoms of Alzheimer's dementia. A collaboration among an equine therapy center, an adult day care center, and Ohio State University, Columbus, found that people with Alzheimer's were able to groom, feed, and walk horses safely under supervision--and the experience buoyed their mood and made them less likely to resist care or become upset later in the day.

This suggests that equine therapy, a treatment used today for children and teens who have emotional and developmental disorders--could work for adults, too. Holly Schoeny, associate professor of social work, indicates that equine therapy could supplement more common forms of animal therapy involving dogs or cats and provide a unique way to ease the symptoms of dementia without drugs.

In addition to memory loss, people with Alzheimer's often experience personality changes. They can become depressed and withdrawn--even aggressive. As researchers look for ways to prevent or treat the disease, today's therapies are becoming more focused on how to ease the emotional burden for patients and their families.

"Our focus is on the 'now.' What can we do to make them feel better and enjoy themselves right now? …

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