Good experiences – Dementia: how a doll can help in care


It may sound strange at first. But dolls and robot cuddly toys can be valuable companions for dementia patients. A Tyrolean caretaker has specialized in the development and sale of the little helpers in daily care.

His name is Peter, he wears blue dungarees with costume decoration and looks kindly at the world. Just like his sister Heike, a cuddly mini Tyrolean with a bright red dirndl and cute braids. Peter and Heike are so-called empathy dolls and are waiting at the Mils industrial estate to be deployed.

Experiences from the nursing profession flow into the work
Empathy dolls are not a new invention, but they are not very well known to us. In Scandinavian countries they have been used in healthcare for many years. “I found a producer there and adapted the dolls to the optical preferences in our latitudes,” says Peter Abart. After many years of practical experience, the qualified nurse from Volders has specialized in the production and sale of nursing aids and has founded the company “37Grad GmbH” for this purpose.

Little helpers for better relaxation
Abart’s customers are retirement homes, hospitals, but also private individuals who care for loved ones with dementia. “Of course the dolls are not suitable for every patient. But that can be discovered quickly,” says the nurse specialist of touching approaches to the small, gentle companions: “That happens very naturally when the dolls trigger something in people. Their effect is described as “calming and frightening.” And they help to express emotions,” adds Abart.

Memories of your own pet are awakened
The same applies to robot cats and dogs, which the Volderer also has in its range. He points to a ragdoll cat, remarkably similar to the living original, purring, meowing, and moving gently. “Many patients know very well that it is an animal imitation. But it brings back fond memories of a past pet, like when it starts purring when you turn on the light,” Abart describes one of the features.

Doll therapy in Tyrol is still in its infancy
‘Puppet therapy’ for patients suffering from dementia is still in its infancy in this country. In other countries it is more established and more and more research is being done. A study into the effects has just started at the University Hospital of Lausanne. The experiences gained so far in the geriatric department are promising. The head doctor recently spoke at a media event about “human medicine” making some sedatives obsolete.

Source: Krone


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