Lisa Byrd


In the year 2020, 80% of the United States population will be over the age of 65 years (Fick, 1993). Elders frequently reside in extended care facilities and experience feelings of loneliness, depression, disorientation, and helplessness (McQuillen, 1985). The therapeutic use of pets has been shown to have positive effects on the socialization of elders. Most research has been conducted utilizing group therapy with a pet. This study focused on the benefits of therapeutic use of pets with the individual elder. The theoretical framework was based on the Neuman Systems Model. The purpose of this study was to determine the significance of the therapeutic use of pets on socialization with elders in an extended care facility. Twenty elders from an extended care facility in Central Mississippi were the sample. Ten visits were made to the participants in the study. The initial visit with the elder served to acquire consent for participation in the study. The next visit was made by the researcher and a third party observer to obtain a baseline measurement of the elders' social behaviors. A dog was then introduced for 10-minute sessions biweekly for a total of 7 visits. The observer was present at the first, iii third, and final visits with the pet to measure the impact of the visits on the social behavior of the elders. A termination visit was made by the researcher to close out the sessions. A t test was used to analyze the data collected from the visits made with the observer. The researched asked two post-study questions regarding the feelings of the elder about the therapeutic use of pets. Content analysis was used to analyze this data. The findings of the study indicated an increase in the socialization behaviors of the elders, but the increase was not statistically significant. Implications for nursing include the concept that advanced practice nurses must consider ways to improve the social environment of elders. Recommendations for further research include replication of the study using a larger population and over a longer period of time.


Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)


Graduate Nursing

Degree Date


Publication Number


First Advisor

Lynn Chilton

Document Type


Included in

Nursing Commons