Organization Gives Hundreds Of Baby Dolls To Alzheimer’s Patients As A Type Of Comfort Therapy
For relatives of people living with Alzheimer’s disease, it can be difficult to stand by and not help as the symptoms start to arise. However, Sandy Cambron in Kentucky accidentally stumbled upon something very helpful for her mother-in-law, Pearl Walker.
Sandy is the founder of Pearl’s Memory Babies, an organization that has donated over 300 dolls to patient’s with Alzheimer’s since February 2018.
Sandy told The Washington Post that when they moved Pearl into a nursing home about 15 years ago, they tried to coax her memory back as she became more and more withdrawn. They tried everything from photo albums to old stories, but when Sandy saw a doll at a toy store, she knew it was just the ticket. Why not bring a doll to the nursing home so that Pearl can have something to care for?
The change was like night and day. Sandy’s mother-in-law started to talk again, and she started bringing the little doll with her everywhere. It was so important to Pearl that when she passed away, she was even buried with the dear object. It sparked an idea in Sandy that this form of comfort for Alzheimer’s patients could work for others, not just Pearl.
Pearl’s Memory Babies was born. As a type of legacy for Pearl, Sandy continued to work with dolls. She and her coworker Shannon Gray Blair started this charity funded completely by donations to buy and gift memory dolls for patients with dementia in nursing homes. They travel across Kentucky and Indiana to gift the dolls and present them to each patient as though they were real.
The reactions are heartwarming and astounding. It’s believed that the dolls trigger some sort of memory, and brings patients back to another time. “Some people cry when you hand them their baby,” Sandy told The Washington Post. “Even though we don’t know exactly what they’re thinking, you can tell that the doll has helped bring back some kind of nice memory.”
The staff members at the nursing homes also notice a change in their residents once they receive a doll. There seems to be a sort of muscle memory and brings about a flashback to holding their own children.
“It’s overwhelming to see how they naturally fall into a rhythm of swaying, rocking and cooing,” said Elise Hinchman, the marketing and development director at Sayre Christian Village to The Washington Post. “The way they light up is like taking a step back in time. You can imagine them holding their own children.”
For Sandy’s partner Shannon, the work is meaningful for others as well as herself. She initially helped in the cause because Sandy gave her a doll for her mother.
When she passed last year, she dove into the work that helped her bear the pain, and it made each visit even more special. “We deliver these babies, then we cry,” she told The Washington Post. “It’s overwhelming, but it’s therapeutic.”
Watch a delivery day in the video below:
What a simple yet incredibly sweet idea! Do you know somebody who could benefit from such a doll? Why don’t you pass this article on to them or their relative?