"As Alzheimer's disease progresses, the need to nurture, love and be loved increases." American Assoc Geriatric Psychiatrists


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Baby Doll Therapy & Stuffed Animal Therapy for People with Alzheimer’s 

Anyone who has seen it happen, knows that a baby doll has the power to soothe and comfort people with mid-late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, just like a plush stuffed animal cat or dog Memorable Pet does. Investigation of the effects that baby dolls have on people who have Alzheimer’s disease is in its early stages, however, when one talks to caregivers who have participated in baby doll therapy, most of them will speak highly about the experience.  Although for some, it can be discomforting to see an adult holding a baby doll, we need to acknowledge the benefits and keep in mind the nurturing, love and happiness a baby doll can provide for our loved ones who are suffering.

                         

            

Doll Therapy Research  

Much of the research involving doll therapy for Alzheimer’s disease has been carried out at Newcastle General Hospital in England and in care facilities in the area of Newcastle. Clinical Psychologist, Ian James and nursing specialist, Lorna Mackenzie, with others, reported significant improvement in the behavior of nursing home residents with dementia when baby dolls were introduced to the residents. Various studies by this group, all observing the effect of baby doll therapy on people with dementia, all reached similar positive conclusions. The most recent, Using Dolls to Alter Behavior in Patients with Dementia, Nursing Times VOL: 103, ISSUE: 5, PAGE NO: 36-37, British journal summed it up like this:

The results of the study provide support for the hypotheses that after the introduction of baby dolls, baby doll users showed an increase in positive behaviour and a decrease in negative behaviour. Also, incidents of aggression lessened compared to before the baby dolls were introduced as therapeutic tools. These results support previous attitudinal studies, which have reported baby doll therapy to be an effective approach in reducing negative and challenging behaviours, and promoting more positive behaviours and mood.                  

These conclusions are in agreement with all the anecdotal evidence reported by caregivers. They continuously credit baby doll therapy with increasing quality of life for people with dementia. Some have even reported that they were able to reduce medications as a direct result of doll therapy.

Another interesting and significant observation reported in these studies involves caregiver reaction to the introduction of baby dolls to the care environment. All of the caregivers in the facility were given surveys before and after the study. Initially 9 of the 46 staff members voiced some initial concern, mostly centering on perception that the dolls would be ‘babyish’, ‘totally demeaning’, ‘patronizing’, or otherwise ‘inappropriate’. In the interview that followed at the conclusion of the study, only one caregiver retained this concern.  All of the others “felt that there were clear benefits of using baby dolls. . . . 14 caregivers felt that residents’ lives were a little better, and 32 felt that their lives were much better.

Benefits reported by the staff included a calming effect, reduction in wandering, increased communication and improved speech. Many of them expressed the opinion that these benefits they witnessed were the result of the individual now having a sense of purpose in nurturing and loving and caring for the baby dolls. One caregiver said of a resident, “He’s a different man with a baby doll in his hand. I found out more about him...the tender side”.

Introducing a Baby Doll or Stuffed Animal Pet

A baby doll or stuffed animal has to be introduced to those with Alzheimer's very carefully. One way is to show the baby doll or stuffed animal to the person and say "what do you think of this?"  You will know pretty quickly if the person suffering from Alzheimer's will want to hold the baby / stuffed animal and what he or she thinks of it.  A baby doll can be seen as a welcoming grandchild or the little sibling of their youth. The person with Alzheimer's may also fear the baby doll and see it as an unwanted responsibility.

It is best to introduce baby doll therapy and stuffed animal therapy in a controlled atmosphere allowing the dementia patient to take responsibility. This can bring structure to their lives in a positive manner. Our Believable Babies can help a person who is not verbalizing to initiate speech again. It is part of the basic thought process to speak, hum or sing to a baby in your arms. 

Whether you give your loved one a Believable Baby or a Memorable Pet, this type of therapy works to enhance the lives of people suffering from dementia. Give it a try!

                          

Testimonials

Stuffed Animals for Geriatric Patients

March 08, 2017

Thank you very much for your donation of 6 pets.  We did received them from the Hospital Foundation soon after their arrival.  After all the staff enjoyed to look at them we have started to include them in our distribution program.  We gave out our first one today and had excellent results. On a funny note, our social worker was carrying one of the long-haired dogs donated and a hospital administrator came up to see why an unauthorized animal was being brought to the hospital by staff. The patient who received it enjoyed it very much as well. Anthony Arslan, DO, CAQGM

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Communicate through Memorable Pets

April 29, 2015

This week's blog takes a look at an article from The Alzheimer's Reading Room, entitled 'Communicating with the Deeply Forgetful'. The article seeks to explain and break down how people living with later stages of Alzheimer's view the world around them, and in particular, how their reality is much different from the reality that we are used to. In order to foster a means of helpful communication, the focus of the caregiver should shift to the new reality of a deeply forgetful person—that is—what they think and believe to be true. This is sometimes difficult, as it often involves "playing" pretend" or placating them in ways that you are not used to, especially when the person you are caring for...

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Alzheimer's Therapy: Keeping Imagination Alive

April 22, 2015

Our blog today looks at the work being done at Pine Run Retirement Community in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, where the residents use painting and clay molding to rekindle their memories.Kris Sinisi, an art instructor at the community who helps the residents with their projects says that imagination is something that does not falter: "They may lose certain memories, but imagination is key, and it's always there, and it can always be sparked and triggered."In the same way, Memorable Pets seeks to help patients with dementia and Alzheimer's reinvent memories of their beloved pets, and through the interaction with stuffed animals, act as a social bond they share with their loved ones.Many patients who receive a Memorable Pet believe it is alive--an...

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'Baby Doll' brings Joy and Light to the Darkness of Alzheimer's

April 03, 2015

Our blog entry today is on a narrative by Nancy Wurtzel, public relations professional, creative writer, and owner of the blog Dating Dementia, who relays the story of her mother's gradual decline into the hardships of Alzheimer's disease at the age of 85.In her later stages after diagnosis, Wurtzel's mother, once highly social and outgoing, began to withdraw from the world and stopped attempting meaningful interactions or conversations. In her earlier stages, she began hoarding containers of old food and became obsessed with winning games like bingo or cards—often sulking like a child when she lost.As her mother continued to withdraw and her years grew shorter and her world became smaller, Nancy turned to doll therapy, and hesitantly bought a...

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Hilarity for Charity Grants for Alzheimer's Care

April 01, 2015

Actor and comedian Seth Rogen, along with his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, have dedicated a charity known as Hilarity for Charity to helping families receive free Alzheimer's care for their loved ones. Hilarity for Charity has partnered with Home Instead Senior Care—an organization built around providing in-home care to Alzheimer's patients within the U.S. and Canada. The charity's care grants have already provided 6,000 hours of free care to more than 130 families, and the organization is still accepting applications for grants, which range from 25 hours of short-term care to long-term care. To apply for a grant from Hilarity for Charity, please visit Help for Alzheimer's Families. Read more: Comedian’s charity provides grants for Alzheimer’s care At Memorable Pets,...

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Alzheimer's Disease Devastating Kentucky and Indiana

March 27, 2015

As a Kentucky-based company, we at Memorable Pets feel it is especially important to shed light on issues taking place in our area, and in this case, it is particularly disheartening to learn that the death rate for Alzheimer's in both Kentucky and Indiana has risen by over 70 percent since the year 2000. In addition, many Americans are not even being told they have the disease. This new report comes from the Alzheimer's Association—according to the 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures report, Kentucky suffered from 1,462 Alzheimer's-related deaths in 2012, while Indiana suffered 2,104. The Association estimates that around 68,000 Kentucky seniors and 110,000 Indiana seniors currently have the disease. An analysis in the report also shows that...

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