How to introduce a baby doll to someone with dementia


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Video Transcript

Today, I’m talking about how to introduce a stuffed animal or a baby doll to someone living with dementia. First thing we want to know is if the person living with dementia is appropriate for a baby doll or stuffed animal. How do you know? Honestly, you don’t, until you try! I have had residents where I was like, this person is not going to think this is a real dog. And then they do, I’ve had residents who I’m like, they are going love this and think it’s a real dog. And they know what it actually is.

This is from memorable pets. They are awesome. I will put in the description so you can get a discount if you purchase. And this guy is from Amazon because where else? Anyway, you don’t know right off the bat. You can’t really tell by looking at somebody, typically someone in a moderate stage or beyond will think this is a real dog. However, you can’t be sure until you try, and the worst thing that’s going to happen is they don’t like it. That’s it? No harm, no foul. It is worth trying. And I’m going to show you now how to introduce it so that you don’t look silly and you don’t make them feel bad if they don’t think it’s real. It is the same methodology for either of these. You just have to figure out if they like a baby better, or if they’d like a cat or a dog.

So once you know that all you’re going to do is you’re going to approach them and say, “What do you think about this?” Because right away, you’re going to know if they think it’s a real dog, they’re going to say, oh, a dog. And you’re going to say, yes, right. And if they say, oh, it’s a stuffed animal, you’re going to say, yes, it is. No matter what they say, that’s the right answer. And guess what? You don’t end up looking crazy by trying to get them, because what are you going to do? Walk up and be like, look at this dog. And they’re like, that is a stuffed animal. Now you look crazy and you’ve probably made them feel bad because they’re thinking, why is this person bringing me a stuffed dog and trying to convince me it’s real? We’re not trying to convince anybody. We are trying to embrace someone’s reality. And of course, as I always say to embrace someone’s reality, you have to know where their reality is. You can’t take the trip if you don’t know where you’re going. So same thing with the baby. Of course, you want to make sure you hold it like a baby.

I once got in trouble with a resident of mine about six or seven years ago, I was walking down the hallway, holding the baby like this. I wasn’t thinking about it. I had just been cleaning up and somebody was like, Hey oopsy. Whoops. Oops, oops. So introducing the baby. What do you think about this? Another time, I was consulting with a company and brought them a gift for my intro to them. Brought them a stuffed dog from memorable pets. And decided to show the team how to introduce appropriately. I said, whichever residents do you think would enjoy this dog? They pointed to a woman. I went over there. Did my technique. What do you think about this? She lit up, she took the dog.

It was a really sweet moment. So again, find out, take a guess. Will this person like a baby doll or a dog? Are they at a point where it’s worth trying and then just try. What do you think about this? That’s it, hope you learned something today and that you’ll share this video.

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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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