Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in the Louisville, Kentucky area have been receiving special gifts from a caring couple. Sandy Cambron and her husband Wayne bring baby dolls to these patients in the hopes that they will bring them joy.
In 2008, Sandy Cambron lost her mother-in-law, Pearl, to Alzheimer’s. In her last days, however, it was a little baby doll that kept her spirits high during those difficult times. She was even buried with the doll.
Ever since they saw the happiness that the doll brought to Pearl, Sandy and Wayne have been bringing dolls to other patients in a similar situation to their beloved Pearl.
“Watching them hug the dolls and say, ‘thank you, thank you,’ just brings me so much joy,” said Sandy. “I’m just hoping it makes a difference, to comfort them in their last days. It makes me happy to see them, to know that I can’t make them well, but I could just try to comfort them.”
Usually, Sandy and Wayne bring baby dolls to the women and stuffed puppies for the men, but often the men will want to hold a baby too.
“Two of the guys took puppies, but then they were asking somebody else if they could hold their babies,” she said. “I ended up leaving some of the men with a puppy and a baby.”
“Most of them were just so thankful and so excited to have a baby. Some of them cried!” recalled Sandy.
“We had one lady that said, ‘Honey, I can’t take care of no baby,’ and I told her, ‘You don’t have to do anything, she doesn’t cry. She’s just here to keep you company. She’s going to be your little buddy.’”
“By the time we left the nursing home, there were several of them in a circle all in wheelchairs and you could tell they were having a little baby party, comparing each other’s babies,” she continued. “It even gets some of them out of their rooms now. It’s just unbelievable.”
Sandy and Wayne have given out at least 200 dolls over the past couple of years. They call their project “Pearl’s Memory Babies.”
“If it grows really big, we’ll go anywhere. We’ll go anywhere to reach those patients,” Sandy says. “We decided to do this in memory of Pearl. Her baby was her little buddy and her companion, it gave her lots of comfort.”
“We knew how much it meant to her and we realized what she was going through. We saw the other Alzheimer’s patients and they just became so precious to use, we want to try to make their last days as pleasant as we can.”
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