Doll Therapy for Dementia

Residents who love to nurture babies are drawn to the baby dolls that Arthur’s Senior Care introduced in recent months. The dolls are a way to help ease anxiety and depression among certain residents in advanced stages of dementia.  It is clear that the dolls are loved dearly by many around here!
One of the ladies living at Arthur’s Alta Vista was enjoying holding two baby dolls recently. When staff asked her if she needed anything, her quick response was, “Another three or four babies!” 
Another client at Arthur’s can become rather agitated and frustrated, but as soon as you hand her one of the baby dolls or the live-in supervisor’s baby, she is suddenly in her sweet grandma mode.  “Grandma loves you!” “You are just the apple of Grandma’s eye.” “Oh, you’re so cute! You love Grandma, don’t you?” She’s concerned that the baby is warm enough, comfortable, and well-fed — things grandmas are well-known for.
The small size of Arthur’s Senior Care homes, with just six residents to two caregivers and a live-in housing manager, lends itself to opportunities to enjoy the baby dolls as well as the babies and children of the live-in manager who often stop by for a visit.

Research on Doll therapy for Dementia

Deb Nygaard, Arthur’s Director of Development, learned about doll therapy at conference on senior care and then followed up online to find further ideas and resources. Deb commented that she selected dolls with open eyes to help with facial recognition. The dolls also have simulated breathing and heartbeats. She has observed that, while not all residents are attracted to the dolls, certain residents find them very soothing and engaging at a time in life when they are no longer able to participate in many activities. Some studies have shown doll therapy can reduce agitation and the need for related medications. While caregivers at Arthur’s aren’t trying to make believe that the dolls are real infants, they are willing to try to engage interested residents in a way that makes sense to them and enables them to express a certain facet of their core personality.
To find out more, contact  Deb Nygaard, Arthur’s Senior Care Consultant. She will be happy to talk to you and/or give you a tour. Come see for yourself!