Sensory Activities for Dementia Patients
Seeing a loved one suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias can be difficult. Being able to relate to someone experiencing cognitive decline can be both important and powerful for you. Sensory activities for Dementia patients can provide several benefits using the five senses. Read on to find out more.
In sensory stimulation therapy, objects, foods, sounds, and other everyday items are used to elicit positive feelings. Furthermore, sensory activities for Alzheimer’s patients can trigger pleasant memories and emotions in addition to helping them express themselves. In short, anyone can benefit from sensory stimulation by using simple objects like flowers, sand, and old books.
A Closer Look at Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease is a general term for memory loss and other cognitive impairments that interfere with day-to-day activities. Dementia symptoms gradually worsen over time as a result of changes in the brain that result in the loss of neurons and their connections. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive brain disease. Estimates indicate that 60-80% of dementia cases contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.
Research is ongoing, and treatments are available for symptoms, although there is no cure as of yet. In the current state of Alzheimer’s treatment, dementia symptoms can be temporarily slowed, and the caregiver’s quality of life can be improved. For more on this, check out tips on dealing with dementia patients.
Top 7 Alzheimer’s Signs and Symptoms:
Below is a brief of Alzheimer’s signs and symptoms.
- Having trouble recalling information – A person forgets more frequently and cannot recall it later.
- Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often forget simple words or substitute unusual words in their speech or writing, making it hard to understand them.
- A person with Alzheimer’s can lose their sense of time and place, forget where they are and how they got there, and are unable to find their way home.
- An impaired judgment. For example, inappropriate dressing or giving away large amounts of money to telemarketers.
- Having difficulty performing complex mental tasks; For instance, people with Alzheimer’s disease may forget what numbers are for and how to use them.
- An Alzheimer’s patient may put things in unusual places, such as a wristwatch in a sugar bowl or an iron in the freezer.
- Persons with Alzheimer’s can experience dramatic changes in their personalities. There is a possibility that they will become incredibly confused, suspicious, fearful, or dependent on someone else.
What is Sensory Stimulation Therapy?
A complex network of electrical impulses governs the functioning of the human brain. In response to external and internal stimulation, this network responds. Depending on the type of sensory stimulation received different parts of the brain light up. To keep the brain engaged and active, it needs stimulation.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia can benefit from sensory stimulation by staying present and interacting with their current surroundings. Studies indicate that sensory stimulation effectively treats memory problems when done regularly. Seniors can see some improvements in cognitive symptoms and daily functioning by engaging all five senses and communicating in different ways. The use of everyday objects that stimulate the senses can trigger positive thoughts, memories, or feelings that are otherwise buried underneath the surface for seniors with Alzheimer’s.
Different Senses and Their Associated Nerves
- Seeing (visual) relies on the optic nerve. By passing through the eyes, light converts into a nerve signal and is sent to the brain via the optic nerve.
- Our sense of smell (olfactory) controls by nerves in our nose and mouth. As a result of smelling or tasting something, olfactory sensory neurons send signals to the brain.
- A person’s touch (tactile) involves a variety of nerve endings located throughout their body. Signals from these receptor cells are transmitted to the brain, where they are translated into vibrations, temperature changes, pressure changes, or pain sensations.
- When we taste (gustatory), we activate receptor cells in our taste buds. As these impulses travel to the brain, we interpret them as sweetness, saltiness, sourness, bitterness, and savoury flavours.
- The auditory nerve is responsible for hearing. Therefore, the eardrums translate sound vibrations into electrical signals in the inner ear.
Sensory Activities for Dementia Patients
The sensory activities for Dementia patients have several benefits; the patients may experience the following:
- Feel safe and relaxed.
- Cognitive and concentration levels increase in number.
- Enjoy reminiscing about the good times they’ve had in the past.
- Feel better overall, have a better mood, and have higher self-esteem.
- Participate in more social activities and interact with family and friends.
Even if you don’t notice results right away, incorporating sensory stimulation into the daily routine may help the person relive memories or communicate more effectively.
A Few Sensory Activities for Alzheimer’s Patients
A sensory stimulation session can benefit your senior loved one without you having to be a therapist. Almost everything in your home provides sensory input. For example, family photos serve as visual reminders of happiness and memories. In addition to bringing comfort and ease to people with dementia, they can also evoke positive memories. Among the sensory stimulation activities recommended by the Alzheimer’s Association are:
- Providing a hand massage
- Walking in a familiar place for a short while
- You can make your own non-toxic finger paint at home. You can also help your older adult express themselves through art by making these nontoxic finger paints.
- Simple household chores like folding towels are soothing and calming and give the feeling of contributing.
- Reading aloud or talking aloud
- Taking seniors outdoors to change their scenery
- Trimming their nails, brushing their hair, or taking a full-on spa treatment
- Put sentimental items in a small shoebox. Ensure that the items you include make your loved ones smile if they see or touch them.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can make it hard for your loved one to connect with people and their surroundings. A sensory stimulation activity can help build a connection between the individual and everyday life by linking them to interests they had before developing dementia. Therefore, using these sensory stimulations strategically can evoke pleasant feelings by arousing one or more of the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch). Nonetheless, by using sensory activities for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients, your relationship can become stronger, and you can spend more time together as a family.
I remember one particular day when I brought my mother to a sensory garden where she could touch and smell different plants and flowers. She was fascinated by the textures and colors, and it was clear that the experience brought her a sense of joy and peace.
It’s heartening to see more and more attention being paid to the importance of sensory activities for dementia patients. Not only do these activities provide stimulation and engagement, but they can also help to reduce agitation and anxiety.