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Doll therapy for people with dementia

This controversial therapy has proven extremely useful

Doll therapy for people with dementia has been a controversial intervention for years now. While the therapy can really stimulate patients and make them feel that they have a purpose, it’s still difficult to see them so infantilized. That image of the elderly singing to a doll and cuddling can be rather disturbing, yet the treatment has proven extremely useful.

Doll
Although somewhat controversial, doll therapy has been very useful for people with dementia.

Historic facts

Based on various studies, physicians have highlighted that dolls can have healing effects on people fighting dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the method is widely utilized in homes and hospitals because it managed to showcase incredible modifications in overall happiness and behavior.

Benefits of doll therapy

Patients with dementia are fond of dolls because they help them keep their focus and stay active. Caring for their dolls makes them feel positive and good about themselves. The therapy can additionally help people communicate, have a better attitude, and stay focused. Patients are less anxious, they’re not agitated anymore and their negative thoughts are replaced with states of joy, fulfillment, and delight. Another purpose of the therapy is to keep patients busy so that they don’t feel the need to harm themselves.

Sense of security

The concept behind the theory wants to state that doll therapy is similar to caring for a baby. It manages to bring patients back to parenthood, and the feeling they get for caring for an infant make them feel safe as well. The nurturing aspect of doll therapy doesn’t just affect women fighting dementia, but also men. They too like to cuddle their ‘babies’, talk to them, and protect them. Studies have proven that caring for dolls gives patients a superior sense of well being. Older patients feel that their independence was taken from them, and therefore the therapy can help them overcome their uncertainty.

Doll
Nurturing aspect of doll therapy makes both men and women with dementia feel safe and well.

Therapy effects

Doll therapy can have various effects of the behavior of a patient fighting dementia. Some people may look at the doll and see a baby that needs caring, while others have a friend they can confide in. Hence, the results of the therapy can be rather overwhelming. Patients can be calmer, sociable, and they might even feel happy and joyful.

Significance of doll therapy

To begin with, doll therapy facilitates communication between patients and their caregivers. When the patient feels safe around his doll he will begin to interact differently with the caregiver, hence giving them the possibility to understand the behavior of their patients a lot better. Studies have proven that doll therapy can replace medication. Rather than dope a patient to keep him calm and relaxed, a doll can successfully do that. The relaxing effects of such a controversial treatment have managed to convince people and doctors alike that dementia can be controlled using such psychological measures.

Types of dolls used for the therapy

Patients fighting dementia are fond of dolls that are the perfect resemblance of a baby. They’ll feel the need to care for the baby and protect him, thus blocking bad feelings from taking control of their actions. In some other cases, patients want more mature dolls with whom they can talk with. The patient will go back to his childhood and his state of mind will make him believe he’s a 10 year old person having fun with his teammate.

Doll
Some patients prefer more mature dolls to talk to, feeling like being with a childhood friend.

Methodology

Don’t give the doll to the patient as a gift. Instead, place it somewhere and allow the patient to ‘find’ it. Therefore, he won’t feel forced to do anything. People fighting dementia can be extremely anxious and erratic, so you shouldn’t make them feel forced that they must do something. When a doll or teddy bear doesn’t seem to work, take it away and put it back in some other day. At some point your patient will find the courage to accept it and he will eventually make it part of his life.

Note that doll therapy cannot be 100% accurate and beneficial. People with dementia act differently and not all of them will accept it. For example, if your patient had a tough childhood he might reject the doll. Bullying or beatings from the parents during childhood could bring back bad memories, and that’s why you need to be understanding with your patients and force him to accept the doll.

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