Tammy Smith and Jennifer Hudspeth, with Absolute Care Management, ventured to Conway Healthcare and Rehab’s Certified Dementia Care Unit June 15 to gift residents with baby dolls and fidget blankets.

Smith said previously told the Log Cabin Democrat that both are avid volunteers with the Alzheimer’s Association and Alzheimer’s Arkansas and part of her job as an education specialist, is to travel the state and teach caregivers how to care for patients with Alzheimer’s.

She said through her travels the lack of therapy programs in Arkansas was brought to the forefront and decided from that realization, and started brainstorming ideas to help with that need and doll therapy became an option.

The duo started collecting items and reaching out for donations.

“Our hope is that anybody in the state of Arkansas that needs or could use a therapy tool, can call us and we can provide them with one,” Smith told the LCD.

Smith and Hudspeth reached out to the Conway business to see if they’d be interested in using their services and traveled to the rehab facility June 15, handing out several dolls and fidget blankets to its residents.

She said most of the women with dementia raised children and kept the house, that’s what they did in their era; with these dolls, she said, most of the residents are likely recalling happier, purposeful times in their lives.

“With Alzheimer’s we lose our current memories and we go back ... we’re regressing in our life,” Smith said.

Smith said the fidgets, which have anything from bells to clasps to tuff of yarn sewed in, give the residents something to do with their hands and a way to divert possible outbursts in the men, who are more likely to do so.

Smith reached out through email to the LCD following the article that was written.

“Not only did you bring recognition to a disease that does not get enough press you also gave recognition to the wonderful people that care for families struggling with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of Dementia,” she said.

Smith said due to the overwhelming response and the outpouring of need for Dementia Care Units across the state, they have decided to move forward and were excited to announce they are completing and submitting their non-profit paperwork soon,

“[To] date, four other communities have reached out to us for recreational therapy tools for their residents,” she said.

She said they are also scheduled to do a more detailed recreational therapy program at Greenbrier Health and Rehab to include therapy training for staff and local community members Friday, July 27, 2018. 

According to Alzheimers.net, as many as 60-90 percent of seniors with Alzheimer’s struggle with some form of distress due to the disease.

“Some caregivers try to ease the burden by giving loved ones lifelike dolls to care for and love,” the website states. “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.”

In addition, it reads, the type of therapy is also a way to bring back happy memories and give seniors a way to feel needed and useful.

The program is seeking new or gently used baby dolls, clothes and blankets, small quilted blankets, fidget items, sewing items and crafters to help make the blankets.

For more information, contact Smith or Hudspeth at 501-504-2555 or email tammysmith@absolutecaremanagement.com or jhudspeth@absolutecaremanagement.com.