A team of doctors at Newcastle General Hospital studied the benefits of dolls after seeing how a patient bonded with a teddy bear from her son, reported the online edition of BBC News.
They found that Alzheimer's disease patients can lose their intellectual, social and emotional abilities over time. The patients also started interacted better with staff and other residents.
In the small-scale study, they gave 14 patients of a Newcastle nursing home a doll or a teddy bear each. They were then assessed over a 12-week period.
Dolls appear to alleviate agitation or distress, help overcome communication difficulties, and reduce withdrawal, the research presented to a British Psychological Society Conference said.
Using toys to help people with dementia has been looked at before as it is an important, non-drug based approach to behaviour disturbances in dementia residents, the study noted.
"What we have done with this study is to look at their use over a longer time period and to investigate whether patients chose to have a doll or teddy bear, said Ian James, a doctor at the hospital.
"Clearly, using a doll doesn't reverse dementia, but it did seem to improve quality of life," he added.
"The findings will, we hope, help advise other clinical teams in their use of this technique."