Popular doll Baby Annabelle would have been mentioned on more than one Santa letter this Christmas, but one recipient was significantly older than the norm.
An elderly woman known as “Nana Lilly” was absolutely delighted to receive her Baby Annabelle doll, as can be seen from the video her granddaughter posted to her Facebook page.
Maxine Daniel from Durham posted the video with the caption: “My Christmas gift to my lovely Nana Lilly (who sadly has dementia) was a Baby Annabelle doll. Her reaction is a joy to see and melts my heart.”
The touching clip shows Nana Lilly cradling the doll, burping and rocking her as if she was a real newborn baby.
So far, the video has received over 36,000 likes and has been shared more than 9,000 times.
Opinion remains divided on whether so-called “doll therapy” is an effective stress-reliever for people with dementia, and some caregivers remain reluctant to try it.
Some studies of doll therapy in care homes have found it to be effective in calming residents, reducing wandering and lowering the need for psychotropic drugs. According to Alzheimers.net, caring for a doll may bring back happy memories of early parenthood, and make seniors feel useful and needed.
A 2007 U.K. study examining the impact of doll therapy on nursing home residents found it to be “a promising and effective approach to use in the care of older adults with dementia.”
A systematic review carried out in Australia in 2014 concluded that there was limited evidence to support the use of doll therapy to manage agitation and verbally or physically aggressive behaviours among dementia patients, but also stated that this type of therapy has “no side effects” and “provides a safe comfort measure” for people with dementia.
In Nana Lilly’s case, it seems pretty clear that her new baby is bringing her nothing but joy.