Baby dolls were given to cognitive decline patients across the Lakeway area over the Christmas break and in early 2022, these patients in memory care units and other treatment facilities have something to love. and to keep.
Sonyetta Ross, a nursing aide at the Regency Retirement Village in the memory care wing, came up with the idea that residents could use the dolls as an emotional outlet. The dolls help soothe patients who find that just holding the figures calms and comforts them.
“I know a lot of them are mothers and when they have dementia they go back to old memories,” she said. “It gives them something to love, kiss, hold on – and they don’t have to worry about someone taking them away. It’s theirs; it’s something personal that they feel close to. It was right in my heart.
Earlier in the year, Smith got the idea that the dolls would be useful for the patients she cares for at Regency and spoke to Allison Giles, a representative for Caris Healthcare, a palliative care provider.
“I met Sonyetta and she told me weeks ago that she wanted to be able to give a brand new baby doll to the 25 women in the memory care unit for Christmas. So I thought to myself,” I can do that, I can make 25 baby dolls, ”Giles said.
She plays bunco, a dice game that can be played by larger groups, with a group of women in Morristown and told them about the need for 25 dolls for Regency and the support was instant and strong.
“I was like, ‘If I can get 25 dolls for Regency, I wonder how many I could get for all the other facilities I go to?’ – which makes about 18 in total, “Giles said.
Turns out the answer is around 300.
Giles began to contact everyone she could about donating dolls for the cause. An aggressive social media campaign was just the start of an effort that saw dolls shipped from all over, including New York City.
A 12-year-old girl from Sevierville, Cara Wallis, donated 58 refurbished dolls.
Giles contacted the Cabbage Patch Kids company who donated 40 new dolls.
She hopes this effort will not only be a blessing for patients, but also raise awareness of the needs and treatment options for patients with dementia, among other considerations.
“My goal in making all of this as big as we have been, is not only to provide baby dolls to patients in our assisted living and nursing homes in the Lakeway area, but also to have awareness that all is well, all is well. for an elderly lady to have a doll that she thinks is real, ”said Giles. “Because that is part of its quality of life and its comfort. “
Giles said that although many patients take comfort in the fact that they recognize it as dolls, some patients are unable to recognize the doll as not being alive.
“Their cognitive decline is so important that the baby is as real to them as a real baby,” she said.
While Ross and Giles have both seen positive effects from “doll therapy,” there is research to support this effort as well.
For example, a 2012 case study by researchers affiliated with the University of Victoria in Australia stated that “the results indicate a reduction in worrying behaviors related to the need for attachment and a dramatic drop in levels of anxiety and dementia. ‘restlessness’.
Ross said that when a patient grabs a doll and it affects them, their whole behavior changes.
“They smile, they laugh, they stroke the baby,” she said. “Their attention span is good because they’re always seated and focused on something, it gets their attention. Something positive is rising in them. Other things can cause that spark, but there is something special about a baby doll because it brings you back to a baby. Babies are pure and natural, and a nurturing instinct kicks in.
Ross said she hopes more dolls will be donated for years to come and in more locations.
“I pray that it goes nationwide and I pray that it is something that continues and continues to grow and grow and grow,” she said.
Giles said she plans to continue the project until 2022 and beyond.