Alzheimer's disease is a chronic and progressive neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects older people . It impairs cognitive functions, such as memory and attention, and greatly disrupts the daily lives of patients, their families, and their caregivers.
In the midst of this delicate situation, an unexpected therapeutic tool has proven itself to improve the quality of life of patients: soft toys.
Let's find out more! Here is an exciting article revealing the benefits of soft toys on the elderly and people with Alzheimer's disease.
To Read Also : The Ultimate Guide To Gifts For Grandma, 50 Original Ideas!
Therapeutic soft toys for the elderly & Alzheimer's
For the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, soft stuffed animals have invaluable therapeutic effects by providing emotional comfort, a communication tool, sensory stimulation, and a memory aid.
Soft toys are associated with childhood during which they represented a symbol of comfort and security. And it's been proven that as we grow up, we don't lose that emotional connection to those soft, comforting objects.
For older people, and especially those with Alzheimer's disease, soft toys embody that familiar and calming presence in an increasingly confusing and unpredictable world caused by the disease.
The simple act of hugging a soft toy helps reduce anxiety and stress , providing a tactile feeling of security and comfort. Much more, stuffed animals elicit feelings of happiness and joy in people with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease.
Finally, our dear stuffed animals often become real life companions for the elderly who feel lonely or isolated.
A communication tool
Another benefit of soft toys for the elderly, especially those with Alzheimer's disease, is their role as a communication medium .
In both babies and adults, soft toys stimulate non-verbal communication and promote social interaction, which is absolutely fundamental to combat the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms and improve the quality of life of patients.
Sensory stimulation plays a crucial role in the care of people with Alzheimer's. This disease primarily affects an individual's cognitive abilities, including memory, attention, and language.
However, extensive research has shown that the senses, such as hearing, touch, smell, taste, and sight, often remain preserved even in advanced stages of the disease. And the stimulation of these senses has a significant impact on the well-being and quality of life of patients.
In this context, soft toys have a big role to play . They offer a variety of sensory experiences : soft touch, different colors, soothing sounds, and even relaxing aromas.
It is fundamental to choose quality stuffed animals for the elderly. Especially at the tactile level, the stuffed animals must be made with materials that are soft to the touch. This softness, combined with the natural warmth of the plush when it is snuggled against you, provides instant comfort by bringing back memories of hugs and providing a feeling of calm.
Another important point for choosing a therapeutic soft toy are its colors and rounded shapes that help to stimulate more visual attention, entertain and brighten the mood of the elderly.
At the auditory level , some stuffed animals can emit sounds like soft music or heartbeats, which can have a calming and soothing effect. However, be careful with the choice of sounds, because if they are too loud or unpleasant, it could have the opposite effect and create stress and anxiety.
As for olfactory stimulation , we recommend infusing Alzheimer's stuffed animals with relaxing aromas or essential oils such as lavender or chamomile. These scents can help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
Finally, like empathy dolls , weighted stuffed animals provide proprioceptive stimulation – they provide pressure or weight that enhances feelings of security.
A memory aid
In Alzheimer's disease, the first faculty that is usually affected is memory. Sufferers may forget important information about their past, such as the names of their children or where they lived. They may also have difficulty recognizing familiar faces.
Therapeutic support strategies such as the use of stuffed animals or other familiar objects can be particularly effective because they help to stimulate and reinforce long-term memories.
Thus, soft toys often serve as links with happy memories , recalling moments from childhood, moments spent with children, grandchildren, or pets. These positive associations boost memory and help maintain identity , which is very important for people with Alzheimer's.
The Oscar Cat Soft Toy , A High Quality Soft Toy by La Pelucherie
The Story of Paro, the interactive seal soft toy for Alzheimer's
The rise of technology has allowed the creation of interactive stuffed animals specially designed for the elderly or those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. These stuffed animals can mimic the movements and sounds of real animals, providing some level of stimulation and interaction for the patient.
The best-known example is PARO, the interactive baby seal now used in many EHPADs and retirement homes in France and around the world. There is also Pepper , an emotional robot designed to combat the neurobehavioral disorders of Alzheimer's disease.
The design of PARO has been carefully studied to optimize its therapeutic potential . Its fur is soft and pleasant to the touch. Equipped with Artificial Intelligence, PARO can also interact reactively with patients : it can move its head and eyes, emit sounds similar to those of a real baby seal and react to petting and voice.
Research has shown that a plush like PARO reduces restlessness and aggression, improves social interactions, increases physical activity levels, and promotes relaxation and well-being in older adults with AD. Alzheimers.
If PARO is rather intended for medical use in EHPAD centers or retirement homes, in particular because of its cost (7,000 euros!), the various research carried out on its subject have made it possible to demonstrate the benefits of soft toys for the elderly . especially those with Alzheimer's.
Share your experiences with us! Does one of your relatives have Alzheimer's disease? Have you been able to observe the benefits of a soft toy on his health and well-being?
Read Also : 4 Reasons to Adopt a Giant Stuffed Animal!