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SSM Health Medical Minute – Doll therapy used for Alzheimer’s Patients

Doll therapy is a new way Alzheimer’s disease caregivers at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital in Fenton are working with patients to help ease anxiety and potential falls.

Dolls are given to Alzheimer’s patients who want them because it has been shown that more than 60% of seniors with Alzheimer’s struggle with anxiety or another form of distress due to the disease. The dolls give them someone to care for and love and, as caring for the doll becomes a major part of their day to day responsibilities.

It has been shown that dolls bring back some happy memories of early parenthood and help them feel needed and useful. Patients are less likely to try and get up quickly from their bed or chair if they are holding a doll, which has been shown to reduce the risk of falls as well.

Most of the evidence to support doll therapy is still anecdotal, but Angie Filipiak, Nursing Team Leader at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital says she was willing to offer it to her patients who express interest. She has seen the residents’ note improvements in their interaction with staff, interaction with other residents, level of activity, happiness & contentment, and amenability to care interventions and agitations when they hold the dolls.

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The SSM Health Medical Minute airs every Thursday at 7 PM on KPLR News 11 and at 9 PM on KTVI Fox 2 News.​