The gift of a doll or a stuffed dog might seem like a small Christmas gift, but to some Acadiana residents it makes all the difference in the world.
Darelene's Dolls and Dogs Alzheimer's Therapy is making the rounds this week at nursing homes to deliver the gifts to patients.
"The program was started last year by one of our co-workers who's grandmother died of Alzheimer's," said Brittany Brown of Hope Healthcare and Hospice. "She realized the significance that these dogs and dolls have on patients. Through therapy, it helps to calm them, take away their fear, calm their agitation and anxiety, and it gives them something they have control over again."
The program now brings the gifts to patients at nursing homes across Acadiana. This year's visits started this week, Brown said.
"The impact we've already had is just truly -- well, you can't describe it," Brown said. "Patients with Alzheimer's look at you, and you don't know what they're thinking or how they're feeling. But when we presented these dolls and dogs, tears came to their eyes. There were smiles, there was laughter. It is truly rewarding."
Today, gifts were delivered to patients at St. Landry Guest House in Church Point.
Co-sponsors of the program include A Care Partners, Hero Treatment Program of New Beginnings Rehabilitation, Kindred at Home, Leading Health Care, Professional Home Health, and Senior Helpers.