As the brain responds to different types of stimulation, sensory activities that are related to dementia, patients can play an important part in helping with dementia symptoms. Research has shown that sensory stimulation through sensory products and activities, is linked to immediate positive effects on the mood and behaviours of people with dementia.
WHAT IS SENSORY STIMULATION?
Sensory stimulation is the activation of the different senses:
- auditory (hearing)
- tactile (touching)
- visual (seeing)
- olfactory (smelling)
- gustatory (tasting).
EXAMPLES OF SENSORY ACTIVITIES FOR DEMENTIA
There are a number of sensory activities and creative support tools for dementia patients that you can use at home, which can help to stimulate each of the senses. Here are 12 examples below of some sensory activities that can help with dementia symptom relief:
- Encouraging sing-along
Familiar music can be comforting for people going through conditions associated with memory loss. Singing can improve memory as well as being a fun activity for all.
- Natural sounds and white noise
Natural sounds and white noise can help trigger memories; it is important to remember to enjoy these sounds at a controlled volume; however, as loud sounds can be frustrating and agitating to people with dementia. Natural sounds, such as waterfalls and birdsong, have been said to enhance the mood and have relaxing properties for people with dementia too.
- Hand massages
A hand massage using very light pressure can be both relaxing and stimulating for dementia patients, just be sure to use a gentle touch to help alleviate any anxiety.
- Pet therapy
Stroking and being around calm animals can be very effective when it comes to sensory stimulation of dementia patients; having mood-enhancing effects.
- Old, nostalgic films
Watching old classics and past favourite films can help to improve cognition and trigger memories, it is one of the simplest sensory activities for dementia there is, but can have a great effect.
- Bedroom decoration
As many dementia patients suffer from interrupted sleep, redecorating the room with calming and soothing colours could help them feel calmer at night. Try and incorporate the opinion of the patient as much as possible, in order to make them feel part of the activity; you can start the process by giving them a choice of calm colours to choose from, so they can make the decision.
- Sensory ceilings
If problems are occurring in the night, then installing a sensory ceiling is a great option for ensuring calm and stimulating at the same time. Enjoying and taking in the projections on the ceiling acts as a great bedtime activity.
- Art therapy
For those dementia patients who may have lost their verbal ability, being able to express themselves is very important, and art is a creative and fun way you can practise this. You can even organise a painting class and tailor the content around the patients participating, to make the experience more engaging for them.
- Diffusing essential oils
Fragrances can be so powerful for people with dementia and open a gateway for memories to resurface. Diffusing essential oils or using aromatherapy products with scents such as lavender, peppermint, rosemary and bergamot can be one way to relax and trigger memories simultaneously.
- Flower arranging
Fresh flowers can help by being a visual reminder as well as bringing back memories through their scent; it’s a fun and light activity to help with sensory stimulation for dementia patients.
- ‘Guess the Scent’
To try and stimulate memories in an engaging format, you could try using food smells like coffee and freshly baked bread through the ‘guess the scent’ game, as a fun way to try and trigger memories with smells. However, be mindful to stop if it becomes frustrating or upsetting.
Although there is no concrete evidence suggesting that foods like turmeric can alleviate signs of dementia, distinctive flavours such as spices can be used to trigger memories. Other flavours to try include berries, coconut, and different teas.
- Multi-sensory stimulation for dementia via sensory rooms
It’s also important we discuss how useful and effective sensory rooms can be in order to help with dementia symptoms. An immersive sensory room experience can stimulate mood changes, cognition and overall wellbeing for people with dementia. Sensory rooms are designed specifically for relaxation and reminiscence, covering many types of sensory therapy, including visual, tactile and auditory through the sensory products that feature in a sensory room such as:
There are so many types of sensory room available that there really is something for everyone, with Experia designing bespoke rooms to ensure that spaces are designed entirely around the user in question. For more information on our sensory rooms, read our blog post on the benefits of sensory rooms.
If you require any further information on dementia or sensory products to help with the symptoms, then please contact our specialist team at Experia who will be happy to help with any queries you may have on the topic.