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Mother had "Teege",a stuffed rabbit and "Precious",another larger stuffed rabbit.She had broken her neck and she said "Teege" fit perfectly in the crook of her neck,a certain spot that comforted her and "Precious" she just held and loved.Every Sunday my Aunt and Uncle would come and we'd play cards and Uno and while we all enjoyed it I could see how Mother's mind was ticking that day and how well she felt.We played cards to the end and she took "Teege" with her to Heaven.I think whatever comforts a loved one is A-Ok.
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For those with fairly advanced dementia there are also various fidget gadgets that some people like: soft ones like blankets, pillows, aprons or stuffed animals usually feature zippers, buttons, ribbons, items with varying textures and pockets to hide special objects, and also fidget boxes that can have buttons to push, switches to flip, doors that open and close etc.
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There was a woman in my moms nursing home who would sit in her wheelchair saying "help me" in varing volume levels. It was unnerving, to say the least. I asked a staff member if the woman needed anything and was told the woman did that from anxiety. After that, I noticed that she often sat with a large, divided tray and a huge pile of beads that she sorted by color or occasionally would string them. There was another lady who sat with a stuffed animal - she was always hugging it so tight I could never identify what type of animal it was suspose to be.

So - I definitely think toys can be appropriate. But I also agree that you'd have to be careful about what toy for what ability level. My son has a tendency to put things in his mouth or chew on things so maybe I'm extra cautious in this regard. I would worry about the beads being swallowed. Personally, I like the coloring books - to be honest I think it would be something I'd enjoy now if I had the time.
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Our living room was filled with toys for my nephew. After my dad's stroke, he would sometimes pick up some of the electronic ones to play with. I also got him an iPad as well. It never hurts to try. If it engages their minds, I feel it doesn't hurt.
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I guess I should add that you want to use caution with giving patients something like this too soon. A sibling had the best intentions when she gave Mom coloring books and crayons when she went into the nursing home, thinking of the recent trend of "adult coloring books" - something that would keep her busy and possibly entertained. It didn't work. Mom was insulted and felt she was being looked upon as a mindless child (her words, not mine) - like she was so far gone that she needed to be reduced to coloring. I never told the sibling that gave them to her of her reaction - I didn't want any hurt feelings - but Mom's feelings were *definitely* hurt.
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I agree with Susan. It depends on the stage. With my Grandma I started giving her little activity books, or puzzles to do. When it started getting worse we got her some toys with the moving parts. Similar to a infants learning toys. Now that she is advanced her favorite toy is this very soft little stuffed dog. She loves cuddling it. It makes her feel safe and protected because I can't stand by her bedside 24/7. It also helps to keep her warm. The fur is thick like a blanket, so when she holds it, it warms up her upper body. Also, she loves anything with buttons. If she can push them and play with them, it'll keep her busy for at least a half hour.
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It depends on the patient and how advanced their dementia is. A stuffed animal to hug often helps a very advanced dementia patient, because it gives them something to pay attention to and hold onto - much like it would a small child.
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