Doll Therapy and Dementia

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Home caregivers who are tending to individuals with dementia know full well the many daily challenges faced by both themselves and the people for whom they care. Finding therapeutic approaches which benefit a person with dementia can be challenging, especially since some patients respond well to one form of therapy (say, for example, music) but might not to another (perhaps aromatherapy). One option that caregivers may want to consider is doll therapy.

Doll Therapy

As the name implies, doll therapy essentially involves the introduction of a doll into the environment of a person with dementia. In general, a very lifelike doll is used, typically one that resembles an infant. Often, a person with dementia may have a visible and positive response to the presence of a doll. In some cases, the patient establishes a bond with the doll that has positive outcomes.
While it is possible that the use of dolls might trigger memories in some patients, this form of therapy typically has stronger results in behavioral areas. Many patients find that working with a doll has a calming effect and reduces agitation and anxiety. Often, patients may be able to re-experience and express affection, attachment, and a desire for nurturing through the use of a doll. This may in turn result in improvements in dietary or sleep issues and may in some cases also improve social interactions with other people.

Not For All

No one therapeutic approach works for everyone with dementia, so doll therapy may not be the best option for a particular patient. Those who are caring for individuals with dementia and wondering if doll therapy is appropriate should consult with their physicians.
Often, doll therapy is best undertaken with the help of a professional who  can provide guidance and advice on the best way to implement the practice.
Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

Christian & Claudia Steiner, Owners

We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services, including skilled nursing and wound care please call us at 212-614-8057 or email us. We accept all types of long term care insurance as payment. Best!


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