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Alzheimer & Reborn Dolls

alzh info
An Article about
Reborn Dolls for Alzheimer Patients.


Early Stage Alzheimer
Women in the early stages of the disease, who are still more aware of the world around them, will still find the doll enjoyable. They may spend time dressing and undressing the doll. They may not talk to it or sing to it, but they will probably name it and enjoy holding it.

Middle Stage Alzheimer
Women in the middle stages of the disease are likely to talk and sing to the doll. They may forget the doll's name and may find it difficult to dress and undress the doll. They are likely to begin carrying it around with them and may attempt to feed it. At this stage, they are very attached to their "baby".

Late Stage Alzheimer
Recent research shows that even in late stages, patients can be responsive to a doll. As with all stages, gently introduce the doll and observe the interaction. Invite them to feel the "baby's" hair or notice the tiny fingers.  If there is no response, try again another time.
Always use a doll whose eyes are open. Often Alzheimer's/Dementia patients interpret closed eyed dolls as being "dead" and this can cause   them undue distress and concern
                      Alzheimer Patients and Reborn Dolls

Placing a reborn doll in the arms of an Alzheimer's patient can calm them to the point of being able to communicate and take instruction. It is a really positive niche for the reborn artist.

At Ashcroft Care Home based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, UK, they have reported that reborn doll therapy has cut the number of patients using psychotropic drugs from 92 per cent at the start of 2008 to 28 percent.

Reborn dolls in particular seem to have the best effect with these patients, as they are so much more lifelike than traditional dolls. The dementia area is a large market that is reasonably untapped for reborn doll artists. In my research I visited a website that showed the most touching photographs of Alzheimer's patients holding their dolls. They appeared happy and calm.

Many dementia patients suffer from agitation and distress, doll therapy can alleviate this. Dementia patients can be withdrawn and communication between patients and careers difficult, reborn dolls have been shown to vastly help in these areas. The British Psychological Society Conference presented this research into reborn doll therapy.

Reborn doll therapy seems to work extremely well with female patients as it takes them back to a time when they were housewives and highly productive. Due to effects of dementia many of these patients still believe they are young, so when they adopt a reborn doll, it brings back happy memories of parenthood. Having a doll can reawaken positive memories of being useful and needed; being loved and of loving.

Doll Therapy is best introduced in the early to middle stages of Alzheimer's. In the early stages the patient may know the reborn doll is not real but will enjoy the pleasures of naming it and constantly changing it's clothes. Women in the middle stages of the disease are likely to communicate with the doll; The Alzheimer patient may communicate with the doll through singing, talking and cuddling. They start to become extremely attached to their doll and keep it with them for many hours of the day.

Introducing a doll in the late stages of Alzheimer's is not quite as effective as in the early stages. Introducing a doll in the early stages will allow the owner to become used to it and as the disease progresses the bond is set and the patient will be able to get comfort from the doll well into the later stages.

Reborn dolls however, are not a cure and the sufferer will not suddenly transform back to their former self because of a reborn doll but it is the comfort the patient feels that is the real benefit of reborn doll therapy.

"I have worked with people with Alzheimer's disease for 12 years and if you ever witnessed one of my residents singing, cooing, interacting with the life-like doll, you would know that it does work. Many of our ladies were homemakers and their number one priorities were family. It was a time in their life when they were useful and had a sense of purpose. A reborn doll can bring a patient back to a time in their life where they felt secure and in control. We must join them on their journey, not ours!" (A quote from a discussion forum for Alzheimer's patients).
By Nicola Baume
Co-Author: Fran Smith   -  
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