Dementia comes in many forms and Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common types of dementia. As of now, there isn’t a cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s, but the experts are not giving up in looking for new ways to make the lives of patients with dementia better.
One of the most recent methods some care homes or therapists use is called the ‘Doll Therapy’. The Doll Therapy makes use of offering life-like dolls to patients with dementia to help them calm down, be more communicative, and interact more.
Therapists who use this type of therapy aimed to adopt Bowlby’s Attachment Theory, which states that a strong emotional and physical attachment to someone is important to one’s development.
With the use of a doll, therapists are hoping that a patient will form a bond that will be beneficial in coping with dementia. Although there aren’t a lot of studies that can prove that the doll therapy is indeed effective, there are some research conducted to back it up. For an instance in a research published in National Center for Biotechnology Information or NCBI’s website, the researchers have observed important changes when doll therapy is used.
In the article, they said: “it seems that the emotional experience of Doll therapy promotes improvements in the ability to relate with the surrounding world that persists over time and is clinically significant.”
And, many care homes have been practicing the doll therapy, saying that it actually is quite effective. There are also numerous videos online showing how various people with dementia react positively upon being attached to their dolls.
Among the people with dementia was Veronica Mckee. Her granddaughter, Kirsty Ashton, was willing to do anything to make her grandma feel better that she tried the doll therapy for her Gran. The heartbreaking video showing how sincere Veronica’s love for the baby she thought to be Kirsty will move you to tears: [scroll down for the video]
Holistic therapist Ruth Ablett actually said that she has been using the method for her patients for several years and she has witnessed it to be successful in treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
She also said that the dependency of patients to psychotropic medication has been reduced because of the therapy. According to Carehome.co.uk, doll therapy triggers happiness in patients as they bring back happy memories of taking care of a baby.
Some families of patients are against using the doll therapy on their loved ones with dementia, saying that it is ‘demeaning’ for the patients to be treated as children. Because of this, not all care homes are using doll therapy, cuddle therapy, or nurture therapy.
While it’s understandable why many people doubt the use of dolls to help people with dementia due to lack of solid scientific evidence, it’s also very clear why there are people who believe in it and try it for their loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia.
They just want to try anything — anything that could possibly help their loved ones feel happy, feel peaceful, even just for a short period of time, even if they would forget about it tomorrow. Just like Kirsty, who took a chance in trying the therapy for her Gran Veronica.
It wouldn’t hurt to exhaust all your efforts for someone you love, but you have to keep in mind that the doll therapy isn’t for everyone.
There are certain points you have to consider if you want to try therapy for your loved ones, just like what Kirsty did for Veronica: first and foremost, you should never force the doll on the patient — you have to let the patient approach the doll by themselves and observe their reaction to it.
Second, it’s better to steer clear of a doll that cries as to not provoke or distress the patient in any way. Third, do not refer to the doll as a doll — especially when the patient already formed a bond with it; doing so might hurt their feelings.
Since Kirsty posted the positive effects of the therapy to her grandmother, many people were inspired and happy to have learned about the doll therapy. There were also donations made to the care home that looks after Veronica.