Saturday, April 6, 2013

Plushies for Seniors

To elaborate a little on the reasoning behind The Toy Cove's current Buy 1 Give 1 promotion, I've compiled the following list of articles about senior citizens and plush toys.

This is a personal story that touches on the difficulty of seeing a loved one change due to dementia. The author is, at first, uncomfortable with the thought of giving her boyfriend, now suffering from Alzheimer's, a stuffed animal.
I immediately told myself I was crazy and that he'd feel insulted and become irate if I gave him a stuffed animal. But finally, on a whim and against my better judgment, I decided to buy one...
On the way to the nursing home, I kept wondering what a 92-year-old man was going to do with a stuffed animal that peeped. That former erudite scholar, lawyer, and professor of French? The man who'd had such a brilliant mind?
It's a touching, brief story that shows the importance of meeting a loved ones needs, no matter how they differ from our expectations and desires.

One important concern is addressed on this page of Best Alzheimer's Products, under the section "Demeaning or Dignifying?": 
Probably more than with any other recommendation for Alzheimer's care, the concern will be raised here about the appropriateness of using toys in treatment. This is understandable. No one likes to see a loved one regress into a childlike state. Unfortunately, that is what is happening.
The arguments in favor of toys as therapy center around the patient. It is our firm conviction that stage-appropriate activities, including toys, enhance the quality of life of persons with dementia.

This article from The State Journal is the story of how two sisters started Memorable Pets, stuffed toys designed specifically for people with Alzheimer's.

Caldonia [the stuffed cat] served as a source of comfort for Rusher’s mother, Betty Dickson, in the months before she died of Alzheimer’s in 2010. As her mother’s memory and motor skills deteriorated, her love for Caldonia never changed.

An article by Rebecca Rosenberg: Experts prescribe children's toys for Alzheimer's patients 
An aversion to the use of toys sometimes stems from the denial that a loved one has become like a child, said Gary Small, a psychiatrist at University of California at Los Angeles.
“A PET scan of a person with advanced Alzheimer’s and a young child’s brain looks very much the same,” he said. “People need to put it in perspective. If a patient is childlike, that’s what’s upsetting, but not the toys. If anything comforts the patient, that’s good.”

An older newspaper article from Beaver County Times (via Google), sharing the story of how Kathy Hall initiated "Fuzzy Therapy for Seniors."

I hope these stories explain why this project is so important to me. :)

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