New York, May 6 (IANS) Taking care of people suffering from Alzheimer's disease may not be an easy task, but if you let them take care of a horse under supervision, the symptoms of dementia eases to a great extent, a significant study revealed.
"The experience immediately lifted their mood, and we saw a connection to fewer incidents of negative behaviour," said Holly Dabelko-Schoeny, associate professor of social work at Ohio State University in the US.
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, the study showed.
"We wanted to test whether people with dementia could have positive interactions with horses, and we found that they can-absolutely," Dabelko-Schoeny noted.
The study involved 16 people who had Alzheimer's - nine women and seven men.
There was a clear improvement in dementia-related behaviour among the clients who received equine therapy or took care of the horses in a farm.
Those who visited the farm were, on average, better behaved throughout the day they went to the horse farm.
The therapy also boosted physical activity among the patients. When presented with the horses, they were inspired to push the boundaries of physical limitations.
"They found the quietness and smells of the country very relaxing and restful. This was in contrast to their normal day care environment and their intercity dwelling," said Gwendolen Lorch, assistant professor of veterinary clinical medicine at Ohio State University.
The study appeared in the journal Anthrozoos.