Of course, as with pretty much everything else, there a people who are against this. Some are saying the toys are demeaning. Others think the activities should be adult in nature and not wrap the patients in kid toys and games and thinking all the time.
The answer is somewhere in between. Sure, stuffed animals should not be the only treatment of Alzheimer’s. Sure, they won’t be of help to every patient. But this doesn’t mean they can’t help anyone. Quite the opposite, they can be very useful in many cases. It all depends on each individual case and it is not something that can be known without trying.
According to award-winning author Marie Marley, who has written several books on Alzheimer’s and treating it, stuffed animals are indeed very helpful. In a column for the Huffington Post she notes some of her experiences. “I gave my life partner, Ed, stuffed animals when he had Alzheimer’s, and he loved each one more than the one before. We played together with them, which gave us a way of relating to each other in a way that was meaningful to us both”, she writes.
A research from December 2015 shows that “participants had an increase in level of happiness, activity/liveliness, interaction with staff and others, and ease of giving care. There was also a reduction in the level of anxiety”.
This seems to support an earlier study from 2001. It concluded that “most of the patients were interested in the toys, and they looked much happier and less agitated”. The key word here is “most”. It is not a guarantee that stuffed animals will help every patient with Alzheimer’s. But the results are worth enough to try. It might just help.