While sometimes controversial, one of the most innovative ways to reach patients who are locked in a world of Dementia is cuddle therapy. There are no drugs or surgeries needed for this treatment method- just lifelike baby dolls. Despite controversy, cuddle therapy with these dolls have proven to provide seniors with a plethora of benefits through natural means.
Soothing Effect of Cuddle Therapy
As you might remember from your childhood, there is something unquestionably soothing about interacting with your favorite dolls or action figures. That effect does not stop at childhood and is especially beneficial for older adults with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. According to DailyCaring, “Similar to the effect of soft toys like stuffed animals, hugging something soft helps someone with dementia soothe themselves.” Older adults who respond well to cuddle therapy tend to make interacting with baby dolls a part of their daily routine, that they eagerly look forward to for therapeutic relief.
Cuddle Therapy is Reminiscent of Parenthood
For patients with Dementia who may have either had children themselves or always wanted to be a parent, cuddle therapy is a great outlet. There is something so innately natural about nurturing for something that appeals to everyone, especially seniors citizens. The Guardian notes that “It brings back happy memories of parenthood and of being useful and needed.” As children grow up and are no longer dependent on the seniors for care, the lifelike dolls provide Dementia patients with the opportunity to be a parent all over again.
The Benefits of Cuddle Therapy Go Further than Caring for a Doll
Aside from all the benefits related to companionship and nurturing, cuddle therapy has been found to be a link to anxiety relief for Dementia patients. Seniors Matter found that, “Doll therapy results in calmer, happier patients who smile and communicate more, sometimes expressing needs they have been silent about inside the shell of dementia.” Often times, older adults are able to open up to the dolls on topics that they previously did not feel comfortable expressing to people such as their caregivers or doctors. These dolls become more than just dolls for patients battling Dementia and Alzheimer’s: they become sources of trust and love for the seniors.
At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, we go above and beyond to stay ahead of the curve on emerging technologies and treatment methods for our seniors. That is why we not only offer cuddle therapy, but we have implemented state-of-the-art nursery areas with everything an actual nursery would have including: diapers, changing tables, and cribs. Our Director of Program Development & Training, Rachel Helfand, discussed our approach to cuddle therapy by saying, “Cuddle therapy is one way we connect with residents and engage them with a sense of purpose. Our communities have life-like baby dolls and animals to interact with; and this meaningful activity enables residents to express their nurturing side. Residents that enjoy cuddle therapy often experience comfort, fulfillment and a sense of purpose in their environment.”
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