For those who love someone with dementia, bearing witness to their relative’s agitation and anxiety can be a devastating experience. Research has shown that doll therapy tips the balance towards positive behaviors, reducing instances of negative behaviors in dementia patients. Doll therapy is sometimes referred to as cuddle therapy. This alternative therapy enhances well-being and reduces memory loss-related psychological symptoms and other mental health issues. While there are many different kinds of recreation therapy, it is known that doll therapy provides some of the most therapeutic benefits. It works simply, and, for many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, this therapy safely and effectively eases distress and anxiety.
Why Cuddle Therapy?
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 life-like baby dolls. Despite the controversy, cuddle therapy has proven to provide people with a plethora of benefits through natural means. The reasons why this therapy works is because it gives distraught people something positive to focus on. When people are cuddling a doll, it brings back happy memories of early parenthood for both women and men.
How Does It Work?
Doll therapy is an alternative form of therapy used to enhance well-being and reduce the mental health symptoms that are associated with memory loss. Within this form of therapy, people are provided a life-like doll, which they “care for” as part of their daily activities. In caring for the doll by holding, rocking back & forth, and cuddling; people can gain a deeper sense of purpose, helping to reduce depression and anxiety while encouraging a sense of love and self-worth. This form of therapy is designed to effectively and safely ease distress for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients, as well as to alleviate any daily anxiety that an individual may face.
What To Be Aware of:
Studies show that when used for dementia patients, doll therapy increases positive behaviors and reduces negative ones. The benefits of doll therapy are designed to trigger empathy and a sense of contentment. However, there are a couple of things to consider before trying doll therapy:
- Getting a doll that is as life-like as possible with feeding capabilities and weighted bottoms can make it seem more believable, it also makes it easier for cuddling.
- Don’t force or directly hand a doll to the person you’re caring for because not everyone will want to interact with a doll. Doing this will prevent it from being forced which can make them feel uncomfortable and stress – which defeats the purpose of doll therapy.
At Poet’s Walk, a Spring Hills Memory Care Community, we go above and beyond to stay ahead of the curve on different treatment options 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 Resident Engagement, Karen Barrett explains, “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.” To learn more about our other Signature Touches programs, please click here.