Defining dementia can sometimes seem an impossible task, whether every person having a very different experience with the condition. Below are some of the most common symptoms of dementia, which can include:
- memory loss
- difficulty thinking or problem solving
- can affect language skills
- out of character behaviour or moods
Unfortunately, even though some of these symptoms can be small scale, to begin with, they can quickly develop, having a great effect on that persons daily living. In the post, we take a look at some of the most innovative and interesting types of support, available to help with the management of dementia.
Sensory lights for Dementia
Incorporating sensory lights into a space, or adding them to an already established multi-sensory room, can really help relieve dementia symptoms. The lights act as a calming agent, but can also be used to stimulate. Using sensory lights for dementia can particularly help to relax users when confused or agitated moods suddenly take over. Combining these sensory lights with, soft music and other calming sensory products, can be the perfect recipe to help de-stress a user with dementia.
Practical application: Choose from a range of sensory lights, with our recommended products being our bubbles walls and star panel, and add this to a space which will benefit the user most. In times of distress or upset, lead the user to the lights (or if portable bring to them) and allow them to gradually feel more relaxed.
My Life Story
Compiling a ‘My Life’ story is something that people with dementia, family members and professional carers can benefit from. Due to problems with memory loss or communication, people with dementia sometimes need help to communicate their ‘story’ (those important aspects of their identity like background, interests, who and what is important to them).
By documenting and sharing their story, people with dementia can gain an increased sense of identity. It can help family carers develop closer relationships, through sharing stories and make a positive contribution to that person’s care. Sometimes the carer discovers information they never knew! For a professional care worker, the person’s life story can help them to develop a better understanding of the person’s needs, improve communication and relationships, and deliver person-centred care.
Experia calming sensory cart
Extremely portable, the unit features the key ingredients in any sensory environment, in just one package, including:
- Calming LED Bubble Tube: both visually attractive and very relaxing.
- Calming Fibre Optic Sideglow: perfect for those with a visual impairment; holding the fibres close to the eye provides both a tactile sensation in the hand and stimulating lights to calm and sooth.
- Aurora LED Projector with liquid wheel: shine on the wall, ceiling or floor to create a distracting and calming effect.
- Integral Bluetooth amplifier and speakers with gesture control, making it even easier to play relaxing music of your choice.
- TV screen: ideal for reminiscence and distraction.
As many as 60-90% of seniors with dementia struggle with some form of distress due to the disease. Some caregivers try to ease the burden by giving loved ones lifelike dolls to care for and love.
The dolls can become an integral part of a person with dementia’s life, as caring for the doll becomes a major part of their day to day responsibilities. This type of therapy is also said to bring back some happy memories of early parenthood and help make seniors feel needed and useful.
While there is growing support for using dolls in dementia care, this therapy isn’t without controversy. Those opposing their use (usually family members) suggest they are infantilising people by treating them as children, which is demeaning and fails to treat the person with respect and dignity.
However, one study completed in 2007 found that it could be used to increase positive behaviours in users, with researchers concluding that the therapy is an effective approach in caring for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Alzheimers.org give the following helpful tips for using Doll Therapy, should you wish to try this approach.
Consider the following suggestions when introducing a doll to your loved one to help with management of dementia:
- Communicate the purpose of the doll for anyone else who may be providing care.
- Do not force a doll on any senior: allow them to approach, hold and be stimulated by the doll on their own time.
- Do not call the doll a doll.
- Do not purchase a doll that cries out loud, as this could be upsetting.
- Provide a bassinet or small crib for the doll.
Vintage train carriage
One care home is taking dementia patients on a trip back in time, with a room transformed into a vintage train carriage.
The railway room at Scarlet House features luggage racks, a table and opposite-facing seats and is designed to look just like an old-fashioned steam-era carriage.
A 60-inch TV screen sits where the window should be, playing footage from a real journey, meaning 'passengers' can watch the English countryside roll by.
This environment works as it is all about reminiscence. You don’t need to go quite this far, but you can create a similar environment using simple tools such as talking, viewing old photographs or listening to music, to encourage a similar feeling of reminiscence.
For any more information on any of the sensory products mentioned, please contact one of our friendly specialists, who will be more than happy to help. For more informative articles on the best ways to help symptoms of specific abilities, please keep reading our blog.