Pearl’s Memory Babies – Baby Doll Program for Dementia Care Residents
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) Sarah Davis, Activities Director for the Reflection of Life Community at Sayre Christian Village, has a passion for her residents. She knows that as her residents decline further into dementia, their need to nurture increases. She has watched with amazement as residents that once knew a doll was a doll suddenly snuggle that baby doll tight, coo to it, feed it, dress it and refuse to be away from it. They believe their baby doll is real.
Recently, Sarah commented to her resident, “Eunice”, holding a baby doll at one of Sayre’s afternoon activities, “Hi, darling. Your baby sure is being good. He’s not fussing at all.”
The resident responded, “No honey, Jason’s a good boy. He’s no trouble. He doesn’t fuss. He’s just teething, see?” Sarah smiled at her as “Eunice” pointed to the baby doll’s mouth that, sure enough, had two painted-on front teeth as she proudly continued, “He just smiles all the time.” Because she believes so strongly in the power of this bond between dementia residents and “their babies”, she mentioned that she would love if she could have more baby dolls to help enrich the lives of the other residents. Knowing that Sayre Christian Village is a non-profit that has to make a dollar stretch and that most of the residents are at or under the poverty line, getting a good quality
baby doll was going to be out of everyone’s budgets.
You see, if the baby doll doesn’t appear real or have a good weight and feel to it, the resident won’t accept it as real, even if they are farther down the dementia funnel.
But, a real-feeling baby, presented in the right way, can be a very helpful, non-drug way to calm and soothe agitated seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These therapy dolls can even be effective in calming older adults with severe agitation or other significant behavioral challenges.
That’s when Sarah reached out to Pearl’s Memory Babies; the non-profit is a 501(c)(3) that relies solely on donations to be able to give ‘babies’ and ‘puppies’ to dementia patients. They went viral on social media the year before when a touching video of their ministry was shared across the world and by sites like People, Today Show, Good Housekeeping, etc. Sandy and Shannon, of Pearl’s Memory Babies, have agreed to donate up to 41 dolls or puppies, enough to include all the memory care residents of Sayre Christian Village, because Sarah had the courage to just reach out and ask. Sandy and Shannon’s mission is to share these gifts with as many dementia care residents as they have donations for and Sarah’s mission is to enrich the lives of her residents.
There won’t be a dry eye the day the babies are delivered. The residents will promptly begin to fill their days with meaningful work taking care of their babies; giving life to the dolls just as the disease robs them of parts of their lives.
Sayre Christian Village is the only faith-based nonprofit continuing care retirement community in Fayette County. They provide independent living, assisted living, transitional short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing services, and dementia care to more than
350 older adults. The organization operates on a beautiful 25-acre campus in Southeast Lexington and has served the needs of older adults since 1973.
For more information about Sayre Christian Village, go to www.sayrechristianvillage.org or call 859-271-9000.