"Calm, satisfied, comforting": The experience and meaning of rabbit-assisted activities for older adults

November 28, 2016


  • Sara McLaughlin
  • Kate de Medeiros

Animal-assisted activity programs are commonly used in long-term care facilities to enhance the well-being of older residents. Although research suggests that older adults benefit from these programs, little is known about the experience from the perspective of older adults themselves. In this qualitative study, we used direct observation and in-depth interviews to gain an understanding of the experience of participating in a unique rabbit-assisted activity program delivered in a Midwestern residential facility. Several benefits were identified, with no negative experiences articulated by the participants. In addition to finding the rabbits soothing, the rabbits served as a source of social support for some participants and encouraged social interaction. Participants generally felt that rabbits are good animals to use for this type of activity, but expressed a desire for more frequent, longer, and more interactive visits. Facilities considering animal-assisted activities (AAA) programs should consider these factors when designing their programs.

Journal of Applied Gerontology. doi: 10.1177/0733464816680322

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  • Long-Term Care Facilities
  • Products/Design/Planning for an Aging Society