Horses May Assist Dementia Patients: Study

Horses May Help Dementia Patients: Study

Equine Assisted Therapy

Every 67 seconds a person in the United States develops dementia.

A pilot study suggests horses may improve dementia patients’ quality of life by looking at multiple indicators.

The Connected Horse Project conducted a study involving 26 participants at Stanford University’s Red Barn. Researchers found unmounted supervised activities, such as observing herd behavior, grooming and leading horses, helped participants recognize and use non-verbal forms of communication.

The guided workshops with therapy horses also helped participants learn self-compassion.

Study participants benefited from an increased perception of social support, less stress and better sleep. They had fewer bouts of anxiety, agitation, and paranoia, often associated with dementia.

The research team was led by Dolores Thompson, Ph.D., and Nusha Askari, Ph.D. of Stanford.

Paula Hertel, a senior care practitioner, and equestrian came up with the idea for the Connected Horse Project.

Another study began in November in collaboration with the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center.