The Grand Baby Project Brings Comfort and Purpose to Dementia Patients Through Innovative Doll Therapy
Source: The Grand Baby Project

The Grand Baby Project Brings Comfort and Purpose to Dementia Patients Through Innovative Doll Therapy

June 25 2024

As the search continues for more compassionate and effective ways to support those living with dementia, innovative solutions like Cypress-based The Grand Baby Project are leading the charge. Born from personal triumph over the trials of dementia, the project's founder and CEO, Tonja Moon, was inspired to help others living with the disease.

The Grand Baby Project came to life as Tonja Moon cared for her grandmother, Ruby, who was battling dementia. Moon describes her grandmother as a lover of designer clothes, chunky jewelry, and vanilla ice cream, but above all, she cherished her grandbabies. When the family introduced a baby doll to Ruby, they found it brought her immense joy, companionship, and a sense of purpose amidst her daily struggles.

Tonja Moon, founder and CEO of The Grand Baby Project (left) with her grandmother, Ruby Sims (left).
(Source: The Grand Baby Project)

From Ruby's transformative journey, Tonja envisioned a project that would extend a similar solace to others grappling with dementia. "God planted a seed in me after she died, that somehow, I would do something with dolls and dementia – although I had no idea what it would be! As my daughter prepared to leave for college, the timing finally fit and I launched The Grand Baby Project", states Moon.

The Grand Baby Project has been received with gratitude and open arms by partnering groups, as the innovative concept of Dementia Doll Therapy presents a non-pharmacologic, effective solution for dementia patients. The therapy dolls used are not only very realistic but also meet the crucial requirements for sterilization and cleanliness for senior care communities.

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Working hand-in-hand with senior care facilities, the Grand Baby Project ensures comprehensive programming, staff training, and Dementia Doll Therapy Certification. Crucially, the adoption of the therapy at any community must be voluntary, with the autonomy and dignity of the resident being paramount.

Moon shares, "Just because someone has dementia does not mean they have lost or will lose their decision-making capabilities. We never force anyone to participate, everything is a matter of choice and senior care communities appreciate that The Grand Baby Project recognizes maintaining the dignity of the resident is paramount."

The Grand Baby Project brings dolls to Casa Azul Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation in Katy. (Source: The Grand Baby Project)

Joining hands with various healthcare companies, communities can offer this therapy to memory care residents at no additional cost. Individuals can sponsor Grand Babies through donation, and families can also sponsor therapy dolls, making participation in the project accessible for a broader audience. Just recently, the Cy-Fair Women's Club presented $1,650 to The Grand Baby Project through their Ways and Means program for the purchase of Grand Baby therapy dolls.

Studies worldwide have indicated positive results from Dementia Doll Therapy, including reduced anxiety, improved appetite, and enhanced socialization, which often eliminates the need for anti-psychotic medication. "I realize the medical community loves research, but I lived the research! I watched my Grandmother go from kicking and scratching caregivers to lovingly care for her baby doll, She went from anxious to agile, from swearing to sweetness – that’s why I’m so passionate about what we do." Tonja shares enthusiastically.

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Before launching the Grand Baby Project, Tonja spent almost 15 years working in Hospice, gaining a profound understanding of the needs and sensitivities of patients at the end of their lives. This background has equipped her with the empathy, knowledge, and patience needed to navigate the needs and personalities of dementia patients, ultimately shaping the Grand Baby Project into the success it is today.

These therapy dolls are handpicked and dressed in a newborn diaper and real baby clothes sourced from Once Upon A Child, a children's resale shop with locations across the country, providing a sensory-rich experience for dementia patients. Furthermore, the Grand Baby Project continues to engage with communities even after the dolls are delivered, providing mentoring, conducting yearly birthday parties, and being an accessible resource for any questions or concerns the facilities may have.

Grand Baby dolls are thoughtfully dressed in real baby clothes and accessories like headbands and bows
for a realistic and comfortable experience. (Source: The Grand Baby Project)

The Grand Baby Project has so far successfully implemented their program in nine states, bringing the joy of Dementia Doll Therapy to over 2,000 recipients. The future for the Grand Baby Project is expansive, with ambitions to break the stigma surrounding Dementia Doll Therapy and propagate its effectiveness worldwide. "As the memory fades, the reason for purpose prevails. Dementia Therapy Dolls provide people with purpose, responsibility, comfort, and companionship – I can’t think of anything more dignified than that. Worldwide training, worldwide distribution, and purpose one cuddle at a time," Moon exclaims.

The Grand Baby Project serves as a source of hope for dementia patients, using an innovative approach to bring comfort, companionship, and a sense of purpose to their lives. Through such initiatives, even the darkest clouds of dementia can be illuminated by the silver linings of compassion, love, and a baby doll named 'Grand Baby'.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 

Tiffany Krenek, authorTiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.

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