This morning I began doing research, and writing, about doll therapy and the benefits it has with dementia patients. I found a study done by the College of Nursing in the University of Toledo, US suggesting that doll therapy can lead to an increase in their level of happiness, activity/liveliness, interaction with staff and others, and ease of giving care. The study even stated that baby doll therapy is an effective non-pharmacological approach for improving the well-being of patients with moderate to severe dementia.
Why did I bother to look into this?
Because every early morning with more than half the Home still fast asleep, the tiny figure of aunty Tina, bends over the dolls in the corner of the passage as she picks them up, kisses each one of them and chatters in her own little way.
Because our aunty Mary won’t go to bed at night without first wrapping the old dolls on her chair, in her bedroom, with one of her jerseys!
Because our dear aunty Anna, always restless, hardly a day with peace in her fragile body, got hold of a blanket in the cold, and we gave her a doll inside the blanket. And there she sat for a long time, with a baby in her arms. She was a mother again. The only bit of her being a women, a mother, still so alive in her.
So I read the article about doll therapy and then continued my day.
And then this afternoon, as I entered the Jura Care Home to facilitate a doll therapy session with a few of our residents, I was stunned by what I saw. Life seemed to play a joke on me. I watched life’s window crack wide open as four generations came together in the warm living room. There sat our Amelia, a fine and fragile woman in her 80’s with the image of youth, a seven week old baby cradled in her arms!
Her grand daughter and proud husband drove from Cape Town. And the grandmother joined for this special meeting of generations. All for a visit and to introduce Amelia, named after her great grandmother….to Amelia.
A little baby dressed in pink within our home, safe in the arms of her great grandmother! And Amelia, so soft and gentle with this little baby, in her way recognising the family with her soft smile flowing over to the blue in her eyes.
And there was a stir in our Home. A stir of emotions, as the baby’s mother allowed all the others sitting in front of the fire place to take turns holding the little one.
As Amelia sat with the little baby in her arms, uncle G came over slowly, and bent down to touch her tiny feet, whispering so only I could hear. “Oupie se kleinding, Oupie se ou kindjie” (Grandpa’ s little baby..) And then our Pastor Errol came closer, and put his hand gently on her head, closing his eyes, and softly saying a prayer for only her to hear.
Four generations; a great grandmother, a grandmother, a mother… and a little baby, came into our Home today and touched so many of our lives.
Again I realised that our people in our Home, do not need their memory to enjoy a moment, a precious moment was here in our Home creating wonderful moments for them!
Life showed me that sometimes a baby doll will work wonders, and other times a real breathing, moving, giggling baby brings tears to your eyes, a smile on your face and warmth in your heart. There may be many things our people forget, but that compassionate caring for a soft baby seems to remain almost completely instinctual.
And while we’re on the topic of babies: Here are 17 Amazing and Natural Baby Care Tricks You Should Know – Have a look!