The active ageing appoach has become a leading global response to population ageing, having been widely adopted as a policy direction across the European Union (EU) and various national and local governments. This trend has been greatly influenced by the World Health Organization pulication of Active Ageing: A Policy Framework (WHO 2002), which has provided the basis for many national policies. The framework defined active ageing as 'the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age' (WHO 2002: 12). The WHO model conceptualises active ageing broadly as 'continuing participation in social, economic, cultural, spriitual and civic affairs, not just the ability to be physically active or to participate in the labour force', and highlights the importance of maintaining autonomy and independence (WHO 2002: 12). Both culture and gender are recognised in the WHO model as cross-cutting factors that have a major influence on active ageing. Given that it is over a decade since the release of the WHO Active Ageing Framework, it is timely to consider the impact of this initiative, particularly on how older people from different cultures and groups experience active ageing.
ABSTRACT Although some research suggests that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for people with dementia living in residential aged care facilities, the intervention has not been adequately investigated. To address this shortcoming, we conducted a randomized controlled trial of dog-assisted therapy versus a human-therapist-only intervention for this population. Fifty-five residents with mild to moderate dementia living in three Australian residential aged care facilities completed an 11-week trial of the interventions. Allocation to the intervention was random and participants completed validated measures of mood, psychosocial functioning, and quality of life (QOL), both prior to and following the intervention. No adverse events were associated with the dog-assisted intervention, and following it participants who had worse baseline depression scores demonstrated significantly improved depression scores relative to participants in the human-therapist-only intervention. Participants in the dog-assisted intervention also showed significant improvements on a measure of QOL in one facility compared with those in the human-therapist-only group (although worse in another facility that had been affected by an outbreak of gastroenteritis). This study provides some evidence that dog-assisted therapy may be beneficial for some residents of aged care facilities with dementia.