DOLL THERAPY: WHY DOES DOLL THERAPY IMPROVE THE WELL-BEING OF SOME OLDER ADULTS WITH DEMENTIA?
Studies between staff and patients using doll therapy have resulted in positive feedback.
Comfort (tactile/sensory stimulation): Patients can gain comfort from companionship with a constant figure overcoming loneliness.
Activity: By acting out past roles caretaking such as nursing, feeding, putting in bed and singing brings purpose to day to day life. We had a diversional therapist purchase a doll for a ninety year old patient who hadn’t spoken for three years and within minutes of her holding the baby she was singing lullabies. The diversional therapist came back the next day and purchased another six.
Sense of Accomplishment: Caring of the baby raises self esteem with the baby looking back into their eyes the patient feels good that their baby wrapped up in a nice soft blanket and not crying therefore they feel they have done a good job.
Inclusion: Some residents created a play group by taking their babies to a quite room each day at the same time and interacted with them including jiggling them on their knees.
Communication and interaction: Staff can often have trouble thinking up conversation topics to have with the patients and can think that there is nothing behind the facade but with a doll there is a natural conversation. The doll changes the nature of the interaction between the patient and staff from being task orientated to quality care orientated. This highlights the importance of communication through touch, proximity and eye contact instead of verbal communication which many patients struggle with. Many residents only form of touch is being taken to the toilet or dinner but babies create an excuse for closer contact with staff and patient.
Identity/Role: Dolls can provide a sense of continuity with the past. Reminding the patient of being a mother. This helps staff see the person behind the patient.
Memories: Memories of movement and emotions can be evoked by a doll.