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Doll Therapy Helps Care Home Residents


Doll therapy is one way Alzheimer’s caregivers try to ease anxiety and bring joy to loved ones with dementia but it’s not without its criticisms. The use of Dolls as a form of therapy can be hugely successful in bringing enjoyment to your loved one.

As many as 60-90% of older people experience the distressing symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia, and therapy dolls have been shown to be extremely effective in helping to reduce this.

A form of reminiscence therapy, doll therapy is designed to revive memories of parental responsibility in those living with dementia. This form of therapy was adopted by the caregivers at Paisley Lodge, in Armley (West Leeds) and it has been very successful in rebuilding residents sense of purpose and help them engage in meaningful conversations.

Home manager Pat Woellner knew of the immense benefits that doll therapy can provide. Ms Woellner said that doll therapy can also provide comfort and safety for dementia sufferers experiencing grief.

Your loved one could benefit greatly from doll therapy according to Dementia UK , through an increase in liveliness and activeness. They also suggest that having a doll can increase your loved ones communication levels with both you and other people.

5 Tips for Using Doll Therapy

These are our top tips to consider when introducing or using doll therapy with your loved one.

  1. Communicate the idea of introducing the doll and its purpose. This is important for both the family and other carers so they understand the benefits and the intentions of the doll.
  2. Introduce the Doll gradually. Perhaps leave the doll in your loved ones room and see how they react to it and see if or how they respond to it.
  3. Do not force the Doll on your loved one. Allow them to discover and interact with doll naturally, if they are not interested in the doll do not force it upon them.
  4. Use the Doll as a way to connect with your loved one. If your loved one is interested and connects with the Doll use it as a communication channel. Try making observations and conversation around/via the Doll. For example: “what a lovely outfit” etc.
  5. Do not use a Doll that cries or makes a noise. This could be upsetting and cause great levels of distress for your loved one.

depression in older people

Things to be careful of:

Whilst Doll therapy has had many successes and has proved a useful tool in engaging and communicating with dementia sufferers it is important to note that it is not the case for everyone. Not everyone will want to interact with doll, if your loved one does not show any interest do not force the doll upon them.

Also some families dislike seeing their loved one interacting with a doll or toy. Some cases have expressed concerns that this therapy is somewhat childlike and can be seen as demeaning. To avoid this communicate the reasoning for the therapy and express the potential benefits of doll therapy with the loved ones family.

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