RHODE ISLAND (NBC NEWS/KFDX/KJTL) — Dolls are easing stress for hospitalized patients with dementia.
“Imagine for an average person, hospitalization is stressful, like you and me. And for dementia patients, it’s extremely stressful and it can be a scary experience,” said Dr. Sevdenur Cizginer, a geriatric medicine specialist at The Miriam Hospital in Providence.
That’s why, 14 years ago, Brenda Pimentel, a CNA at The Miriam Hospital came up with what she calls a “towel” doll.
“It started when I had to sit with a patient with Alzheimer’s, confused, picking and prodding at their lines,” recalled Pimental. “I just tinkered with it one day and I said, oooh look, a little doll.”
Brenda used all things she had at her fingertips–a towel, wash cloths, a johnny, and a sock turned inside out, the foot cut off and made into a beanie, within minutes.
“It helps ease the anxiety that they have and it brings them back to their childhood,” said Tanya Durand, a fellow CNA.
“You provide a doll and you just kind of distract a dementia patient from environmental stress that they forget about being in the hospital,” added Cizginer, who calls it the best kind of drug.
“Without any side effects and you can’t overdose,” she added.
“It gives the different textures for them to feel and it really did take away the feeling of wanting to pick at their IV’s,” said Pimental.
Joining Brenda’s towel dolls this past year, the colorful Smile Dolls, made at the Cranston Senior Center, that effort led by Brenda’s Aunt Ann Tanzi.
Quite a few options aimed at making patients with dementia more comfortable which has an added benefit.
“Taking care of this anxiety, this agitation affect the outcome very positively,” said Cizginer.
This past year, more than 100 Smile Dolls have been donated to the Miriam. And Pimental continues to make the towel dolls too