Dolls Help Seniors Cope With Memory Loss

It can be heartbreaking to witness a senior loved one lose their memory to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Although they may be losing their life memories, they don’t lose their ability to care for others. That’s what makes the nonprofit group Pearl’s Memory Babies so memorable.

The idea started when Shepherdsville, Kentucky resident Sandy Cambron’s mother-in-law developed Alzheimer’s disease a few years back. Her mother-in-law was sad, and nothing seemed to rally her, not even going through photos or old mementos from her life. That’s when Sandy and her husband came up with the idea of giving mom a baby doll, so she could feel the value and love of caring for something again.

“She started talking again and she never went anywhere without that baby,” Cambron says in a Washington Post article. “She took ‘baby’ to the dining room with her and slept with her in her arms every night. When she passed away a year later, we even buried her with that well-loved baby doll.”

The success with the doll inspired Cambron and her husband to purchase dolls for other female patients at the facility. (They also bought stuffed animal puppies for the males.) “Their response was touching and truly amazing,” she says in the article. 

This prompted the couple to buy other dolls for patients at other healthcare facilities with memory care units. When a friend’s mother was experiencing Alzheimer’s, they bought dolls once again for everyone at that memory care unit, and pictures of the dolls and the joy they brought to patients went viral on social media. This pleasantly surprised Cambron, who wasn’t expected such support. “You just take your sweet time with them and hand them a baby as it’s real, not like it’s a doll. Show care, compassion, and love,” she writes on her website.

The dolls appear to rekindle something inside the patients’ memories and hearts, Cambron says. Since February 2018, Pearl’s Memory Babies has given more than 300 dolls to seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia at nursing homes in western Kentucky and southern Indiana, according to the Washington Post article.

You can donate to Pearl’s Memory Babies here. Or, think about other senior loved ones in your life who are suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Could their life be transformed by caring for a baby doll (or even a stuffed animal like a dog or cat), just like what Cambron does through her program?

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