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If you were to walk into the Shorehaven Health & Rehabilitation Center, chances are you might do a double-take when you notice the lifelike dolls being cared for by our residents. The incredibly realistic baby dolls were a recent donation from the Shorehaven Service League of Volunteers to our households in skilled and memory care. Funds raised from the League’s Great Grill Out event earlier this spring helped purchase four dolls for Shorehaven residents.

“Senior communities are beginning to use doll therapy at an increasing rate to ease anxiety among their residents,” said Pat Ornberg, fundraising chair for the Service League. “Senior care providers and experts say the dolls help draw in seniors who are no longer able to participate in as many activities as they once did.”

To learn more about how doll therapy helps soothes seniors here at Shorehaven, click here.

“Doll therapy can be very beneficial for some people,” said Cindy Foth, Memory Care Coordinator. “Having the doll often provides them with an anchor or a sense of attachment in a time of uncertainty, as seniors often associate the doll with their younger days and having people to care for.”

It’s important to note that caregivers using doll therapy aren’t trying to make anyone believe the dolls are real infants, and they don’t want to infantilize the seniors. They’re merely trying to meet them where they are and communicate with them in a way that makes sense to them.

Kathleen Dunn, our activities coordinator in our memory care unit, immediately noticed the impact the dolls made with the residents. “The babies are a conversation starter for the residents,” Kathleen said. “Whoever is holding the baby is the star of the show. The babies are tactile, they’re lifelike, and help the residents focus on providing care for someone else.”

Kathleen emphasizes how much the Service League has blessed residents, both in skilled and memory care. “The babies have already brought so much joy, and you can see it in their faces. It’s been incredible to see how residents care for the babies every single day.”

From the latest purchase for four dolls for our skilled and memory care units to scholarships and stained glass windows, the Shorehaven Service League of Volunteers continues to provide resources that enhance the lives of both residents and the staff here on our campus. Their latest fundraising opportunity – the Tree of Love – will help fund the purchase of stained glass windows in the east hallway leading to the Shorehaven Chapel. You can find brochures with more information here on the Shorehaven campus.

To learn more about the Service League or how your gift can help make a difference, call Pamela Thomas, manager of volunteer services, at 262-560-6915.