Alzheimer's patients can become depressed and unhappy because they can’t do things that keep them engaged. Patients with dementia can also experience personality changes, agitation, and aggression. One treatment that's catching on in nursing homes and other senior care facilities is doll therapy. But some question if it really helps.
While studies on doll therapy are limited, proponents say that they show this type of therapy can reduce the need for medications plus lessen agitation, aggression and wandering. Proponents also claim the dolls can lessen stress, improve communication, and reduce the need for psychotropic medication in these type of patients. Several researchers even reported that patients were more expressive, communicated better and seemed more cognitively active.
While it may seem that reduction in negative behaviors following the introduction of therapy dolls would mean that it could be a positive addition to dementia care programs, the therapy is still controversial. Among other concerns, some critics feel that giving adult dementia patients a toy is demeaning. To learn more about the use of doll therapy with dementia patients, read this article from NPR.org.