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Toy dolls offer therapy for Alzheimer’s patients

A new and inexpensive treatment is making a difference for Alzheimer's patients at SSM Health St. Clare-Fenton.

FENTON, Mo. – A new therapy is making a difference for Alzheimer’s patients and their families. The treatment is inexpensive and does not require drugs.

Nurse Angie Filipiak introduced doll therapy at SSM Health St. Clare-Fenton.

“The more life-like they look, the better,” Filipiak said. “Patients seem to take to that.”

Filipiak said the dolls can calm down or distract Alzheimer’s patients. Some sleep and cuddle with the dolls; others treat them as if they are real.

“I think it does bring them back to caring for their children, maybe,” Filipiak said. “For some, they knew it wasn't a real baby, but it still comforted them.”

At times, the dolls can even replace other, traditional treatments, like medication or restraints.

“If it helps for a moment, it's nice and it helps the families,” Filipiak said.

The program is voluntary. The dolls are funded through the St. Clare Auxiliary volunteer organization.