The benefits of doll therapy for people with dementia

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We have previously blogged about the benefits of sensory pets for people with dementia, but another similar method that’s proven popular and beneficial for people with dementia is doll therapy. Studies have found that introducing a doll to people with dementia increases positive behaviour and decreases aggression.

Features of a therapy doll include moving eyes, realistic hair and features, but if you can’t splash out on one especially made for people with dementia, a child’s doll will have similar benefits. You should steer clear of dolls that make crying noises however, as these can cause distress.

The act of holding the doll can have a calming effect on a person with dementia, bringing down any tension or stress. It also helps distract them and reduces any risk of wandering.

Using doll therapy can also help with communication, whether that means the person with dementia talking to you or generally just talking with the doll. If it can lead to them expressing themselves more and opening up about thoughts and feelings, then that is a great thing.

Holding something that represents a baby will cause natural feelings of nurturing to return for a person. It might also remind them of a time when they held their own children and create feelings of reminiscence and affection.

It’s important to introduce doll therapy slowly to a person with dementia. You could place the doll in a room before the person enters and let them discover it themselves, monitoring their reaction towards it.