WEST CALDWELL, NJ — Thanks to a generous grant from The Rotary Club of the Caldwells, residents in the memory care unit of the Crane’s Mill Health Center have been provided with robotic cats, dogs and dolls to calm the effects of dementia-related anxiety, angst, fear and sun-downing.

Samantha McCoy, MSLIS, director of the West Caldwell Public Library and out-going Rotary Club president, recently presented a $2500 contribution to Marnie Bergen, LNHA, Associate Executive Director of the Crane’s Mill Health Center.

“The members of the Rotary Club are very focused on every part of our community, whether they be young or old, healthy or infirmed, or anything in-between,” said McCoy. “With the challenges faced by the older generations, we viewed Alzheimer’s disease and its related complications as a real concern. Then, we looked at the effects that robotic companions can provide to older adults suffering from dementia.

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“We were especially impressed that these animals can give dementia patients a sense of purpose when they care for it, a sense of calmness when they pet it, or simply just a sense of comfort.”

Bergen, who has more than 20 years of management experience in senior living, agreed, stating that “many well documented studies support the fact that providing older adults with a robotic cat, dog or doll produces positive results in memory-challenged individuals.” These can include increased happiness and calmness; reduced agitation and anxiety; and increased engagement, she said.

“We are very grateful to the Rotary of the Caldwells for providing us with this bequest,” said Bergen, who also noted that those in the Memory Care Unit at Crane’s Mill have seen first-hand how these robotic animals and dolls calm residents suffering from dementia. “Using these modalities is often preferable to medications. Again, we are so thankful to the Rotary for thinking of us.”

Although the Crane’s Mill donation is the most recent contribution coming from Rotary Club of the Caldwells, it is only one of many.  Living its mission of “Service Above Self,” the Rotary has also provided financial support to the Caldwell Food Pantry; the West Essex First Aid Squad; and Caldwell University. Future plans currently include expanding the robotic cats, dogs and dolls program to other senior communities in the area. 

Pictured above: 

Samantha McCoy (left), MSLIS, Director of the West Caldwell Library and outgoing president of the Rotary Club of the Caldwells, presents a $2,500 donation to Marnie Bergen, LNHA, Associate Executive Director of the Crane’s Mill Health Center, to purchase robotic cats, dogs and dolls for residents of the health center suffering from dementia.  Cristine Franco (standing left), Director of Life Enrichment at the Crane’s Mill Health Center, and Susan Lubalin, newly elected president of the Rotary Club of the Caldwells, look on.