Dementia Care & Babies


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I’ve written about baby dolls before, but I often get reminded of the amazing impact they have in our residents’ lives. They really do make our residents happy.

The other day I was walking down the hall and spotted three of my residents, sitting nearby each other, cuddling their baby dolls. They were all of different levels of functioning. One woman, Gwen, can almost pass for a person without dementia. She is talkative, outgoing, and can walk without aid. Another one, Bella, did not speak much at all, and still another resident spoke, but completely in Italian. She used to speak English, but eventually lost her second language as her dementia progressed.

Despite their different levels of functioning, all these women were interacting with each other because of the dolls. 

They took turns holding each other’s babies, or remarking on the looks of each baby. My resident, Bella, held out her hands and caressed her neighbor’s baby’s face. “Beautiful,” she offered.

The babies are such a big hit that we actually had to assist one of my residents in putting her breast away–she was trying to breast-feed the baby doll.

“Isn’t she adorable!” Gwen cried to me. “She’s the easiest baby! She doesn’t cry or nothing!”

A good site for baby doll purchases

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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