One day as I was going down my Facebook feed I saw a picture of a stuffed animal wrapped around a walker leg of a person with dementia. The writer mentioned that it made her loved one very happy.
So I did a little digging into….
Stuffed animals for dementia
Stuffed animals for someone with dementia? Yes!
A live animal pet for a person with dementia is not a good thing. I’m sure you could imagine what all could go wrong with that! Tripping over the pet, forgetting to feed the animal or the opposite – forgetting that it was fed and feeding it multiple times a day! And it’s quite possible that the person with dementia may end up eating the pet food, especially if it looks enticing enough!
Stuffed animal benefits for seniors
Yes, stuffed animals DO help people with dementia.
Benefits to having a stuffed animal companion include:
Decreased stress and anxiety
Reduced feeling of loneliness
Provides a sense of purpose
The woman that had the stuffed animal wrapped around the leg of the walker? It was a hugger bracelet.
These aren’t just for kids! They are actually advertised as “slap bracelets” however, I wouldn’t demonstrate that aspect of them to your loved one. I’d be afraid the act of “slapping” them might cause an injury. Older people tend to have very thin skin and are easily bruised.
I would encourage that the slap bracelet be used to go around the leg of a walker or cane and the arm of a wheelchair. I guess you could try an arm or a wrist as well.
Stuffed animal companions
If you don’t think a hugger bracelet will work for your loved one don’t worry, there are companies that make stuffed animal companions. In fact, you can even get ones that are custom made to actually look like your real dog.
There are 4 life-size stuffed lap dog companions available through The Alzheimer’s Store. There is no movement with these dogs but they are really cute.
There are stuffed birds that just make the bird calls when you press a certain spot on the bird.
There are stuffed birds that mimic what you say.
If you’re not sure what the word animatronic means think a combination of animal + electronic – picture a plastic, roaring, head swiveling dinosaur.
The Alzheimer’s Store has a variety of dogs that sleep and breathe. They include labs, spaniels, yorkie, poodle, husky, and pug.
If your loved one is more of a cat lover and would prefer an orange tabby cat, a black and white or a calico cat the Alzheimer’s Store has the sleeping/breathing ones available.
If you’re willing to invest more money into a stuffed companion The Alzheimer’s Store has several dogs and cats with realistic barking, purring and lifelike animal movements.
The Alzheimer’s Store also has Arthur – The Music Therapy Teddy Bear that comes pre-loaded with several classical songs that are available at the press of a paw plus the ability to upload more songs to memory.
Hopefully out to the public at some point in the near future is a bear called Cue Teddy that “talks” and prompts the person with dementia into performing movement. Watch this report on the teddy bear below.
Do stuffed animals help people with dementia
I would say it’s a very clear yes, however, think about your loved one first before you rush to buy one. Is your loved one “ready” for one?
While not a stuffed pet, I tried a doll with my mom and she wasn’t ready for it. She knew it was a doll and wasn’t big on me giving her a doll – kind of a “why are you giving me this doll” attitude so to me that meant she just wasn’t ready to accept a doll as a substitute for holding a baby or to be comforted by holding a baby. She probably wasn’t at the right stage in the Alzheimer’s progression.