Some of the calming benefits of spending time with a pet can also be experienced with stuffed animals.
Music offers a powerful way of providing comfort to people. Music can both soothe and stimulate people. It can elicit powerful emotional responses and also help people reconnect with memories. Nostalgia can also be a great way to help your loved one connect with their past if they are living with dementia.
- Listen to their favourite signer, band or genre together
- Create a Spotify playlist of their favourite artist or genre
- Show them videos of their favourite singer or band performing live
Doll therapy involves offering dolls to adults who are living with dementia and other medical conditions with the goal of improving their comfort, engagement, and quality of life. Doll therapy is typically used for people who are in the middle or late stages of dementia.
Additionally, doll therapy is a non-pharmacologic way to address challenging emotions and behaviours that may develop in dementia. There are no medication side effects or drug interactions with doll therapy. Caregivers sometimes report that when a loved one is holding a doll, they are able to more easily provide care to their family member or resident because of the distraction and comfort the doll provides.
Treatment With Dignity
Those against the use of dolls for people with dementia often are concerned about the dignity of the person. They point out that an adult with memory loss is not a child and shouldn’t be treated as such.
Whether or not dolls are used, always be certain to treat all adults as adults, with respect for their life knowledge and contributions to those around them that they’ve made over the years. A diagnosis of dementia does not erase the need to be treated with dignity.
Research on Doll Therapy
Multiple research studies have been conducted on the use of doll therapy for people with dementia. The researchers have been seeking scientifically-based answers on if, and how, doll therapy benefits those living with dementia
While the ethical concerns noted above are often referenced in the research, the results of the studies demonstrate several benefits of doll therapy. These include:
- Decreased anxiety
- Decreased agitation
- Increased happiness levels
- Increased social interaction
- Increased activity level
- Improved ability to receive care
- Fewer negative verbal expressions
- Improved mood
- Decrease in wandering
- Decrease in obsessions
- Improved food intake
A way of letting a person express themselves whilst also exploring their creative side. For many, even if they were never particularly artsy or creative, arts and crafts can provide a wide range of sensory stimulation.
Sometimes, simple but fun activities can offer great results.
- Jigsaw puzzles – as dementia progresses, fewer pieces will be necessary
- Old board games, such as snakes and ladders, and scrabble
- Untying knots – this gets their hands working and requires a surprising amount of focus