Animal-Assisted Therapies and Dementia: A Systematic Mapping Review Using the Lived Environment Life Quality (LELQ) Model

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE. The authors mapped the literature on animal-assisted therapies (AATs) and institutionalized adults with dementia onto the Lived Environment Life Quality (LELQ) Model as a guide for future services and research.

METHOD. Refereed literature addressing AATs and institutionalized people with dementia was comprehensively gathered, described, categorized, and synthesized in this systematic mapping review.

RESULTS. From 1,342 screened records, the authors included 10 research articles that incorporated dogs in therapy for institutionalized adults with dementia. These canine-assisted therapies offered occupational opportunities and environmental supports conducive to experiences of relative well-being, occupational engagement, and optimal functioning.

CONCLUSION. The findings offer proof of the concept that canine-assisted therapies are feasible and can elicit positive quality-of-life experiences in institutionalized people with dementia. Researchers and practitioners need to elucidate the theoretical foundations of AATs. The LELQ Model may serve as a guide for client-centered, occupation-focused, and ecologically valid approaches to animal-assisted occupational therapy.

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