Product: Kayla the Comfort Baby Doll
Price: $119.99 + $4.99 shipping US
Cheapest Place to Buy: Amazon.com
Size: 18″ /45.7 cm length and weight of average newborn
Guarantee: Free return for 120 days
My Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Comfort Therapy Doll – Product Overview
So Truly Real Kayla is a realistic comfort therapy doll designed specifically for individuals with dementia. As you can see, Kayla has a beautiful, sweet face. Her smooth head, arms and legs are crafted in RealTouch® vinyl. Both body and head are weighted, so Kayla feels very much like a newborn in your arms. Kayla’s hand-rooted hair is fine and soft. And she has the faint scent of baby powder.
Kayla comes to you in a pink sleeper and cap. Also, included is a Certificate of Authenticity. Proceeds from each sale of Kayla are donated to support Alzheimer’s research.
To be (used) or not to be (used), that is the question!
In my role as memory care director, I am often asked for my opinion on doll therapy for people with dementia. The question generally comes from a concerned family member who wants to do what is best for their loved one, but does not really understand the reasons for using doll therapy. The very idea of an adult (their spouse or parent or friend) holding and caring for a baby doll makes them feel very uncomfortable.
I get it. There IS controversy surrounding doll therapy for adults with dementia: Some people believe the practice to be demeaning and infantile and unacceptable for intelligent, educated, mature adults, while others view it as a simple and kind way to provide individuals with a sense of attachment and or responsibility in times of agitation, aggression, distress, sadness, or loneliness.
The key to appropriate doll therapy is to introduce a doll to the person with dementia in a very dignified and respectful way rather than using it as a child’s toy or real infant.
Approach the person and ask if they would be willing to help you. Tell them you need someone to hold the doll while you are busy elsewhere (nearby). Allow the individual time to respond. If they are unable to verbalize, look for facial or body clues (such as eyes on doll, hands reaching out, a nod) that let you know they are willing to help.
Just putting a doll in a person’s arms or on a lap without explanation will probably backfire. I’d be upset if someone did that to me!
A big part of doll therapy is talking about and acknowledging the individual’s feelings and his or her ability to accept your request for help. So communicate your ideas–ask for expertise in holding a doll or how to dress it or what to name it–engage the person in conversation. Give encouraging words and smiles. Say “thank you!”
It’s important to remember that dolls are dolls, not babies. And despite declines in memory, speech, perception, and physical abilities, adults with dementia are still adults. Take your cues from the individual–allow them to call it ‘doll’ or ‘baby’ or ‘Suzy Q’ or ‘sweetie pie’ or ‘spot’.
Also important is the fact that some individuals with dementia will see the doll as a baby right off. Again, follow their lead and don’t argue. His or her reality is real to him or her.
One of the sweetest memories I have ever had with doll therapy involved a man near the end of his life. He was visibly uncomfortable; his pain medication had not yet helped. I knew how much he adored children (info in his chart and grandchildren visited often); his face would light up and he’d tell anyone around “I just love them!”
To take his mind off the pain, I asked if he would like to see my baby doll. Tears welled in his eyes as he asked to hold it. He began telling me of a time many years earlier when he was a young father. He said he loved to hold and hug and kiss his babies.
Another memory with doll therapy is completely opposite: An agitated woman refused the doll by grabbing it from my arms and throwing it against the wall. My approach to her was the same–I asked if she would help me—but doll therapy was not for her.
Refusing to hold the doll is absolutely fine. Don’t ever try to persuade or force someone to accept a doll. Find another strategy to reduce stress and agitation. One-size does NOT fit all when it comes to dementia.
Whether an individual is living at home or resides in a facility, doll therapy can provide the following benefits:
- Reminder of wonderful years past, when providing care to one’s own children;
- Help Increase sense of purpose–feeling needed and productive;
- Bring structure into daily routine;
- Provide sense of responsibility again;
- Initiate speech in a person who is not verbalizing any more;
- End feelings of boredom or uselessness;
- Calm feelings of anger, fear, loneliness, agitation, or depression;
- Serve as an attention-getter;
- Create a positive distraction from a potential harmful or dangerous event;
- Be a tool for social interaction;
- Reestablish nurturing feelings;
- Provide hours of hugs, smiles, laughter, and feelings of love;
- Reduce wandering or other repetitive behaviors;
- Decrease antipsychotic medications and or dosage.
I absolutely love Kayla for several reasons:
- She is lifelike: So many other dolls LOOK and FEEL like dolls for children–they are FAKE and not appropriate for adults. I believe this is where the “infantile and demeaning” comes in. If I saw my own mom with an obvious kid’s toy doll, I’d be upset too. Kayla has soft, smooth skin, and weighted body and head that require support. She is an APPROPRIATE dementia therapy doll. She wears real newborn clothes (*** I strongly suggest purchasing additional outfits, blankets, and accessories for Kayla so activities such as changing, sorting, folding, hanging up, and putting away might also be enjoyed).
- Kayla is a great investment: She is well-made, sturdy and easy to keep clean. The cost is affordable and worth the benefits I personally witness every single day in my work. To date, I have purchased 3 Kayla dolls for the residents in my memory care community. They love Kayla–she feels right in their arms–and she isn’t viewed as a play thing. As a result of doll therapy, my residents and I have reminisced about numerous topics, including pregnancy, choosing baby names, Christening, preparing bottles, doing laundry, folding and ironing clothes, cooking meals, teaching children to walk, talk, and ride a bike, sending children to school, Christmas traditions, family reunions, birthday parties, family vacations, nursery rhymes, children’s songs, favorite children’s pets, siblings, parenting philosophies… and the possibilities go on and on. Keeping minds sharp enhances quality of life!
- Doll Therapy, when done correctly (as mentioned above), produces positive results in many individuals with dementia. As a caregiver and manager of caregivers, I believe in using doll therapy as part of a daily routine. People with dementia require quite a strict routine–they have spent their whole lives working at jobs, caring for children, writing books, traveling, serving their communities, raising grandchildren, etc. Routine can reduce negative behaviors. Doll therapy provides the perfect way to tell a person “I need your help, I respect your experience and wisdom, I value you as a person and a friend, and I need you!”
Bottom Line: If you are seriously considering doll therapy, Kayla is an excellent choice!
Please leave any questions or comments below.
All the Best,