Wednesday, 10 January 2018

How Does A Doll Help Someone With Alzheimer's?

It's extremely difficult seeing a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's, and its actually even harder if you're caring for the loved one. Seeing a parent or another elderly relative deteriorate over a few years is hard and knowing there is nothing you can do to stop the disease is often devastating to the carers. In many cases, Alzheimer's can be manifesting for years before we realise that our loved one is suffering. Its heartbreaking for families in the later stages because elderly parents forget their children and years are wiped from their memory.

There is no cure for Alzheimer's but there are drugs to slow down the progression of the disease, and it's these drugs that help Alzheimer's sufferers to cling on to their memories that little bit longer. But often, these drugs that are helping to slow down the disease, they also have detrimental effects on some of the elderly people. Speaking to a friend of mine recently she said that she notices a huge difference in her mum when she takes the medication. When they give her mum the medication, she is almost zombified and has to be fed, is more forgetful and sleeps more. It often seems like a no-win situation for the family.

People with Alzheimer's often find comfort in things that remind them of the past and that's why many elderly centres will have rooms filled with things from the 50's and 60's, but more recently it was highlighted on social media about giving Alzheimer's suffers a doll. So we decided to give one to a lady that we call 'Nanny', we placed the baby on the bed with her and at first, she paid no attention to the doll, but after an hour or so, she started to stroke her and play with the different fabrics on the dolls dress. We paced the doll in her arms and she started to cherish and love the doll as if she were a real baby girl. The doll that we gave Nanny was Baby Born Winter Wonderland doll, that we have previously reviewed here. She is completely bath-able so you can clean her off if she gets dirty if the relative tries to feed her and she can be bathed by the relative.

Here are some tips if you're buying a doll for your family member with Alzheimer's.

  • Communicate the purpose of the doll for anyone else who may be providing care, this means that any other members of the family or outside carers will know to follow through on what you're doing.
  • Do not force a doll on an elderly person, just allow them to approach the doll on their own and wait until they feel comfortable with it.
  • Do not call the doll a doll, give it a name, we called our doll baby Linda.
  • Do not purchase a doll that cries out loud, as that could be upsetting, especially if the doll won't stop crying.
  • Provide a Moses basket or small crib for the doll, if the elderly person is mobile they might like to use one with the doll. 

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