When my mother moved into assisted living after my father was hospitalized, my niece gave her a stuffed llama. Llamas were her favorite animal. She named the llama Cupcake and took it with her when she moved into a hospice home two months later.
Cupcake stayed by my mother’s side for the rest of her life – three more months. The hospice nurses would tuck the little llama into the sheets every night after giving my mother her evening meds; they all knew her name.
Did my niece know how much comfort Cupcake would bring her grandmother? Maybe; she’s that kind of kid.
I hadn’t thought about Cupcake in a while but then I read an article about volunteers wrapping stuffed animals to give to residents at a senior living center in Florida. The article references information from the AARP that suggest “plush animals offer seniors similar benefits to therapy pets.”
Stuffed animals aren’t just for kids. It could be the touch or the familiarity, but whatever the reason, these toys can be soothing to older people too. I’ve seen it first hand.
Toy manufacturer Hasbro know this. Recently the company introduced its JOY FOR ALL Companion Pet, a plush cat with realistic fur, purrs and meows, plus sensors that respond to petting and hugs with cat-like actions. A company spokesperson said, “We heard from seniors across the country that companionship was important to their happiness. Many live alone, miss having a pet, or are no longer able to care for a pet.”
If you’re still looking for a gift for the seniors on your shopping list, why not look in the plush aisle?