At Ayer’s Health & Rehabilitation Center we provide specialized services for memory care. One of the therapy options that we have successfully used with our dementia patients is doll therapy. Thanks to the 20 lifelike Lee Middleton dolls donated by Candy Purser, “Babes in Arms” was born. The premise of the program is to allow residents a chance to enjoy spending time with dolls. The simple act of holding a doll brings back memories from the past. Staff encourage residents to revisit memories from their past and talk about their childhood. “Babes in Arms” provides an effective way to decrease stress and agitation among Alzheimer’s patients. A doll can help restore structure and responsibility back into their lives.
Introducing doll therapy in a controlled atmosphere can have many benefits for seniors. For example, doll therapy can help someone who has stopped speaking begin to vocalize again through speech, humming or singing. Other benefits include:
- Provides a calming effect
- Fills time with hours of smiles and cuddles
- Comforts to help with sleep
- Creates a pleasant distraction
- Acts as an attention-getter or conversation starter
- Restores warm, nurturing feelings of caring and kindness
- Makes it possible for someone to achieve added independence
Once the play therapy is over, the dolls are placed in a 1960’s doll carriage that was donated by Roger Wiley. Then they are transferred to other communities. Residents beam with excitement when they see the carriage arrive. Ayer’s Health & Rehabilitation Center is proud of their “Babes in Arms” program. It brings a lot of happiness to residents and helps with open communication and makes them feel a sense of purpose.