The Positive Effect of Therapy Dolls for Dementia

dolls for dementia

Baby dolls for Alzheimer’s patients are therapeutic

A helpful, non-drug way to calm and soothe seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia is to give them a soft, lifelike baby doll to cuddle. These therapy dolls can even be effective in calming older adults with severe agitation or other significant behavioral issues.


Why therapy dolls for dementia work

Therapy dolls help seniors feel useful and needed and give them something positive to focus on. Similar to the effect of soft toys like stuffed animals, hugging something soft helps someone with dementia soothe themselves.

Another reason therapy dolls are helpful is that they bring back happy memories of early parenthood for both women and men. Having a child to care for can also ease feelings of isolation and sadness. After all, most of us have seen or experienced the way that interacting with real babies can quickly lift spirits and calm nerves.

Many older adults will enjoy rocking and cuddling their doll. Some even adopt the baby as their own and make caring for it part of their daily routine.


Tips for introducing doll therapy to your senior

The best approach is to casually introduce the doll to your senior and let them decide if they like it or not. If they have no interest in the doll, don’t make an issue out of it. They may change their minds in the future so you could always give it another try in a few weeks or months.

A few tips:

  1. Don’t act like the doll is a doll, refer to it as a baby and treat it like a real child.
  2. Get a lifelike doll, but one that doesn’t cry – that could be upsetting.
  3. Don’t force it, allow your senior to get to know the doll slowly.

For a real-life example, click here to find out how one woman slowly introduced a lifelike doll to her mom and used it to ease her anxiety without making her feel stressed about being responsible for it. Try it out, see how your older adult responds, and be flexible.


Some caregivers find dolls controversial

We’ve heard from many caregivers who say their older adults are much calmer and happier now that they have their own baby doll. They’re relieved to have found a non-drug solution that eases their senior’s dementia symptoms.

Some people are concerned that giving their older adult a doll would be demeaning or patronizing. But when someone has dementia, helping them feel safe and happy in their current reality is the top priority. That’s why we sometimes need to consider unconventional approaches like baby dolls, fidget blankets, and other simple activities and toys.

Of course, the decision is entirely up to you since you know your older adult best. If you think a therapy doll might help them feel better and enjoy life more, why not give it a try? It’s an inexpensive “treatment” with no side effects.


6 soft, lifelike doll options


You might also like:
Robotic Cat Brings Joy to Seniors with Dementia
12 Engaging Activities for Seniors with Dementia: Reduce Agitation and Boost Mood
Activities for Seniors with Alzheimer’s: 10 Inexpensive DIY Ideas


By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: healthguides


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