Proposal on doll therapy in dementia patients

Proposal on doll therapy in dementia patients


This paper seeks to address the issue of “Doll Therapy in treatment of Dementia patients.” The problem warranting this study is the fear of increased dementia patients within the aging population. Basically, three objectives derived under this study are; to establish a practical approach of executing the doll therapy to dementia patients by caregivers, to establish the efficiency of implementing doll therapy to dementia patients in a care unit and assessing the practicability of executing the doll therapy to dementia patients to prevent long-term complications to the elderly. The target population will be 20 respondents from Dementia Care for Alzheimer’s disease, Ohio State. The study is of importance to families and care givers of dementia patients. The PICOT model of research design shall be embraced. Data will be collected using questionnaires and observation. Analysis will be both qualitative and quantitative. Ideally, a practical approach will be followed unlike prior studies that focus on experts’ knowledge however time is a possible limitation to this study.


Structurally this paper deals with “Doll Therapy in treatment of Dementia patients.” Dementia is a common condition to the aging population within the age bracket of 65-85 with Alzheimer’s type being the most common. Studies show that in US at least 10% of victims over the 65 years age brackets suffer from this condition whereas 50% of the victims are over the 85 years age brackets. This explains the reason why most of the long term care facility (LTCF) occupants are 65 years and above. There are high chances of developing dementia with increase in age which becomes patent through undernourishment, sleeping disorder, agitation, depressions, and wandering (Stephens, A et al., 2013).This study hence seeks to establish a practical approach of assessing and valuation of care treatment administered to dementia patients using doll therapy as a possible anti-agitating method which is opposed to the pharmacological methods and restricting patients against their freedom.


The study shall embrace the “PICOT Model” designed by Pezzati R., (2014).This shall include elements such as (P) selecting institutionalized patients with the (O) aim of decreasing agitation and behavioral disturbance in dementia patients by providing doll therapy (C) study patients’ behaviors with no doll therapy (O) to control behavior and psychological disorders in dementia patients (T) residing within a long term facility. The study is scheduled to take place within a month to a pilot study that would help form an evaluation tool for the doll therapy as well as observe important elements significant to this study (Mitchell & Donnell, 2013).

Target Population

This therapy method shall focus on old people in the long term care facilities. This population would comprise of patients from the age brackets of 65years. Ideally, a total of 20 respondents 18 of which would be dementia patients and the remaining 2 would be caretakers of dementia patients, especially the nursing assistants who work on a daily basis with the patients. Some of the special elements to be observed from dementia patients would include; patients’ ability to caress the doll, ability to see the doll and engaging with it. The setting would be Dementia Care for Alzheimer’s disease Center. This is a 60 bed skilled nursing facility in Ohio State. This facility is easily accessible and located among other healthcare facilities.


Anticipated areas would be corporation from caregivers, family members, the staff, and the patients. The respondents especially the nurses would be having a huge workload hence limited time to participate in the exercise. Some may possibly ask for a pay for their time.

Significance of the study

This study is of significant use to medical practitioners, researchers as well as families with dementia patients. It gives insight of the best approaches towards doll therapy in ensuring that patients’ self-esteem is revived as well as reducing agitation for a stable livelihood.

Research objectives

This study aims at meeting the following objectives:

  1. To establish a practical approach of executing the doll therapy to dementia patients by caregivers.
  2. To establish the efficiency of implementing doll therapy to dementia patients in a care unit.
  3. To asses the practicability of executing the doll therapy to dementia patients to prevent long-term complications to the elderly

Literature Review

Dementia condition is very common diagnosis in elderly which causes cognitive, behavioral and emotional disturbances and makes big influence on patients’ and caregivers health.  According to Pezzati R., (2014), dementia present in 40-50% of institutionalized patients. Current studies are focused on resolution of emotional disturbances in patients and financial cost (Pezzati R., et al., 2014). The new International Psycho geriatric Association, 2012 recommendations focused on non-pharmacological interventions in addition to medications for better treatments of behavioral disturbances in patients with dementia.  In the study, Bowlby’s theory of attachment was applied to observe results from Doll therapy (Pezzati R., et al., 2014).  One of the hypothesis suggested is that during Doll therapy patient with dementia experience feelings which leads to initiation of care giving and inspection systems in addition to attachment one. Effectiveness of Doll therapy supported by improvement in connection with environment and re-activation of the care giving and exploration systems (Pezzati R., et al., 2014).

Mitchell & Donnell (2013) define dementia as” natural intellectual disorder that causes loss of rational ability that interferes with societal and professional functioning. This disorder is complicated and occupies ones judgment, character, concentration, language, memory, behavior, relations and conceptual thought among other functions (Mitchell & Donnell, 2013). Symptoms of dementia include; anxiety, sleeplessness, agitation, inability to care for self, defiance, violent behavior, and other unsafe actions.

Traditionally, restricted and restrained movements are among the treatment methods that were used to control dementia victims from self-harm (Fernandez, R., et al., 2014). Over the time, these two methods (restrain and restriction) were reported abusive and undesirable (Fernandez, R., et al., 2014). Other treatment methods such as use of chemicals to control unsafe behavior were taken into account. With time, chemicals were associated to adverse harms such death and digression of cognitive faculties hence a need to explore alternative ways of dementia treatment.

Studies indicate that attachment to others is a common element to adults with dementia. For example, speaking about or searching deceased relatives as if they are present or carrying around objects such as shoes. This further warrants the effectiveness of using doll as a therapy that helps dementia patients overcome their inner distress and agitation.

. Edvardsson, Petersson, Sjogren, Lindkvist & Sandman (2014), define the “doll treatment” as,” A sensible and careful use of dolls for their representational importance to facilitate a positive emotional state of people with dementia (P.1).” This treatment method makes dementia people feel useful.  These scholars conducted a qualitative research on the use of doll therapy on dementia patients and established that this treatment method proved effective since it cooled down the distress and agitation of patients. Improvement of mood, cooperation during feeding, going to the toilet, and interacting with others were observed as positive behavior change pattern from the respondents.

Data Analysis and Critical Appraisal

The study shall embrace observation of the respondents. For instance, their routinely activities, response to the doll at their glance, emotions such as happiness, sadness, anxiety, and isolation will be taken into account to measure desirable characteristics fit for this study. Questionnaires will equally be filled to obtain the response from caregivers. Preferably, open-ended questionnaires will be constructed to allow respondents freedom. However, some closed ended questions will apply to maintain the study objectives. The obtained data shall be entered in excel sheets.

Most of the articles related to doll therapy were descriptive and based on specialists knowledge. In all the sampled cases, there was no practical approach on implementation of doll therapy for dementia patients. This study uses practical approach and distinctively engages the dementia patients in the study to meet the objectives.

Synthesis, interpretation and presentation of results

Data shall be presented in figures, pie-chart diagrams, and tables.  Additionally, percentages shall be calculated and a brief explanation given thereafter to describe the numerical representation of the phenomena. Caregivers would help in rating participants’ behavior on doll therapy with a rating criterion from 1-5. The qualitative and quantitative data will fully explore research gaps of the study.


In a nutshell, the literature above is only limited to scholarly knowledge and publications. There is less focus on practical approach which this paper shall mainly focus on by including dementia patients in the study to give a clear insight. Ideally, future researchers should base on more practical approach than theoretical.

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