Cuddle Therapy – One Family’s Journey to find Comfort

Cuddle Doll Therapy is a therapeutic intervention that launched at Loch Lomond Villa in September 2016, thanks to one women’s determination to make a difference in the lives of those living with dementia.

Wanda’s parents, Arnie and Rita, are residents of Loch Lomond Village. They have been married for sixty-five years. In this time together they built a wonderful life. They welcomed three children into their lives, countless grandchildren, and many more children that Rita babysat over the years. For Rita and Arnie family means everything. They share many memories of raising their children and helping out with kids in their neighborhood.

When the trial for this program launched, Rita was immediately comforted by the cuddle therapy. Arnie was a bit skeptical at first, but after seeing how much benefit Rita received from sitting and cuddling with the babies that he was also hooked. Their smiles grew brighter! They loved to sit down and admire the tiny fingers and toes on each baby. Wanda, their daughter, says “watching them with the babies makes my heart smile.” As the trial continued it wasn’t only her parents she saw enjoying the program. She saw many residents from all over the Village finding comfort and joy from the cuddle therapy program.

Wanda says “It’s a natural instinct when you hold the cuddle doll, it’s almost like a sense of peace and relaxation comes over you. There is just something about this program. You can tell that the residents are happy.” After seeing how successful the trial program was, Wanda wanted to find a way to contribute to the happiness that was bubbling out from cuddle therapy. She decided to start by donating two cuddle therapy babies to Loch Lomond Villa. After seeing how much good the program was doing she rallied with her husband and her other family members and donated four more babies.

Cuddle Doll therapy is one way caregivers try to ease anxiety and bring joy to loved ones with dementia. It gives them purpose and their brain actually feels a sense of comfort. The dolls can become an integral part of a senior’s life, as caring for the doll becomes a major part of their day to day responsibilities. This type of therapy is also said to bring back some happy memories of early parenthood and help make seniors feel needed and useful.

Cuddle Therapy is now a regular part of our resident’s lives at Loch Lomond Villa. Donating to programs like this creates opportunities for happiness and engages our residents to re-enter the caregiver role. Cuddle Therapy is all about relationships. It works with the idea that the connections we make throughout our life define who we are. Many of the residents at Loch Lomond Villa define themselves as mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles.

A donation from one person, has now forever affected the lives of many residents of Loch Lomond Villa. To Wanda, the decision to donate was simple. In her words she says “We were always taught that if we could do something for others that we should. I also felt that if the babies would help Mom and Dad, then why not share that happiness with others? If you can share happiness why not!”

To donate to programs like this contact Kristen Wheaton in the Foundation Office at (506) 643-7110.

~ Written by Molly McGovern & Kristen Wheaton