For the last six years, Julie Gray had been visiting her grandmother every week at the nursing home, trying to help her cope with Alzheimer’s disease.
Her grandmother, Angie Clark, had been battling the disease for the last 15 years before being moved into a nursing home, and passed away at the age of 90 in late January. Throughout those years, Gray said there were many days her grandmother didn’t know who she was, or who Gray’s mother was, and occasionally didn’t even know her own name.
But Gray was able to find one form of comfort for her, some way of helping to ground her grandmother on days she was having a particularly rough time, when she gave her grandmother a baby doll.
“As soon as she had that baby in her arms, she lit up and was just ecstatic,” Gray said.
Now, Gray and her friend Mary McCourt, whose mother also suffered from Alzheimer’s, are collecting dolls in hopes of helping out other women suffering from Alzheimer’s, driving around nursing homes and care facilities around Midland and Odessa to hand them out on Mother’s Day, May 13.
“This is just a way to give back and honor my grandmother’s memory,” Gray said, “because she was such a loving, sweet woman who would do anything for anyone.”
The Alzheimer’s association states that about two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer’s are women, and Gray said many are forgotten once they’re dropped off in a nursing home. Gray said giving these dolls to patients helps to give them something tangible to hold onto.
“When they hold a baby doll, it takes them back to moments when they were young mothers, and they were holding their own children,” Gray said.
Gray saw that first hand when, one day, her grandmother was having a particularly rough time, and Gray gave her the baby doll she had, and began playing patty cake with it.
“The nurses and I were just standing there in awe,” she said.
Gray said she would like to make the doll drive, named Angie’s Babies after her grandmother, a yearly event to continue giving back to those who suffer from Alzheimer’s.
“There’s so much negative in this world and this is a way we can give back to a set of the population that is so often forgotten,” she said.
Gray said the showing from the population has been overwhelming so far, they have received around 150 dolls from people in Midland and Odessa, as well as from friends and family across Texas and the U.S.
Anyone who wants to donate baby dolls to Angie’s Babies can drop them off at the Lisa Copeland Nationwide Insurance offices in Odessa, 2240 E. 52nd St., and in Midland, 4400 N. Big Spring St., Suite B-19. Donations of $10 can also be given through PayPal to Gray through PayPal using her email email@example.com.