Being the caretaker for someone with Alzheimer’s can be difficult, to say the least. The disease is one of the most debilitating there is, and it can be hard to not only watch your loved ones go through it, but help patients who have it feel like themselves again.
Kentucky resident Sandy Cambron had to suffer through watching her mother-in-law Pearl pass from Alzheimer’s. While the experience in itself was, of course, awful, there was one thing that she took with her after she died.
Before she died, Sandy and the rest of her family tried to comfort Pearl in many different ways. Because she loved animals, they tried toy dogs, cats, you name it. But nothing seemed to work. Then one day, Sandy handed her a baby doll.
“She immediately took to it and just loved it and kept it by her side the whole time until she passed,” Sandy said.
After she passed in 2008, Sandy knew she was on to something. That’s when Pearl’s Memory Babies was born. As a way to honor her late mother-in-law, Sandy started to make realistic-looking dolls and puppies for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It wasn’t until Valentine’s Day when Sandy and her coworker, Shannon Blair, brought the dolls and puppies to Park Terrace Health Campus, where her own mom is living with the disease, when Pearl’s Memory Babies went viral. The reactions of the patients was truly emotional.
“It’s heart-breaking and heart-filling all at the same time because it makes you realize they’re lonely because they’ve lost everything they know,” Shannon said “It’s almost like Sandy was giving them something back that they’ve lost…immediately, they make a connection with it.”
This isn’t the first time doll therapy has been associated with making people with Alzheimer’s or dementia feel better. Though there’s little research, it does exist.
“We know that people living with Alzheimer’s — particularly in the later stages — can respond to a variety of different interactions or stimuli. It could be music or art or pets — even dance,” said Ruth Drew, director of information and support services for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It’s important to be able to find activities that meet the person with the disease where they are in that moment, and help them enjoy life with dignity.”
Studies show that doll therapy can help patients find a purpose in life, brings back memories of parenting, and makes them feel useful. To learn more about the positive effects doll therapy can have—plus the reactions pateitns had to Pearl’s Memory Babies—check out the video below.
In addition, if you’d like to donate to Pearls Memory Babies, you can do so via PayPal here or via our GoFund me fundraiser. You can also send a donation to our address at Pearl’s Memory Babies, PO Box 74, Shepherdsville, KY 40165. Your donation will be used to invest in more babies and puppies to help patients.
What do you think of this amazing initiative? Did you have any idea realistic babies could help people with these memory loss diseases?