TRENTO. Eyes with a sidelong or cross-eyed look, smiling expressions, small hands and squat feet, weight equal to that of a newborn, little aggressive colored dresses. Everything, in the eight therapeutic dolls donated byAlzheimer Trento Association at the Center for Cognitive Disorders and Dementia of the Health Authority following an agreement signed on September 30, it is designed to arouse familiarity in patients afflicted with degenerative diseases. These are beyond 8000 in the province of Trento alone, and the growth rate is worrying. But we must not get confused: what at first glance would seem a bit strange toys are actually real medical equipment of a new discipline, the “doll therapy”, whose exercise requires training, methods and precise times.
“It is an approach originating from the Northern European Gentle Care tradition and which despite the still reduced number of studies has already obtained full scientific recognition – explains Dr. Eleonora Lombardi of the center – so much so that it finds space in the guidelines of both the national plan and the provincial plan for dementias, which promote appropriateness in the use of drugs. If done effectively, this therapy can help to mitigate the use of sedatives to varying degrees.
But how exactly does it work? “Dolls are indicated only for those who suffer from the disease in an advanced stage, to the point where they no longer distinguish between real and imaginary, when even a photograph seems real – continues Lombardi – these patients, whose oral expression skills are often compromised. , rely heavily on non-verbal communication. The direct gaze would be perceived as a sign of challenge and could even scare them. On the contrary, the round shapes reassure them and arouse maternal instincts in both women and men ». In addition to fighting apathy, sometimes small motor movements and gestures of care are also recovered such as caresses or putting to sleep, intercepting and reactivating the brain areas connected to affectivity and emotionality. And if the name of each doll is left to the family to whom it will be loaned to choose, the use must nevertheless be prudent.
«They must be introduced and removed from the patient’s life gradually, without insisting if we are faced with a refusal. It is also necessary to avoid creating a symbiotic bond between the puppet and the client ”explains the geriatrician. The next steps include training the caregivers who will assign the dolls to patients compatible with the therapy, as well as monitoring the results of the treatment. Another not less important innovation in the agreement is the establishment of a new listening point located in the outpatient clinics of the cognitive disorders and dementia center, and which will strengthen collaboration with the voluntary body.
«In reality we have only formalized a synergy that has been present for years – comments Lombardi – the association plays a fundamental role in entering the support network for patients and their families. Thanks to the dialogue between people who have lived through similar experiences, one feels encouraged to have a direct and spontaneous confrontation without fear of the doctor’s reverentiality: only in the case of particularly serious situations, at the will of the patient, is intervention with the health workers located in the offices. territorial “.
The hope is that thanks to a counter integrated into these structures, in a dedicated room, communication between patients, volunteers and specialists will be even more effective. Satisfaction was also expressed by the director of the Alzheimer’s Association Renzo Dori.