Sensory Stimulation Therapy for Alzheimer’s
Sensory stimulation refers to the activation of the body’s senses through a variety of activities. Several studies have demonstrated how sensory stimulation can improve the overall well-being, mood, and quality of life for individuals living with Alzheimer’s. Simple activities like folding towels, knitting, baking, gardening, board games, and others that involve stimulation of senses greatly help individuals with Alzheimer’s to stay occupied both physically and mentally, thus promoting relaxation and reducing agitation.
How Sensory Stimulation Works?
1) Promote Healthy Brain Activity
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that gradually targets the neural connections the brain uses to process information. This disrupts information transfer between neurons and impairs cognitive function and memory formation. These deteriorating connections make it difficult to remember things and communicate clearly.
Sensory stimulation promotes healthy brain activity by brain stimulation. When fingertips touch an object, hundreds of neurons beneath the skin are aroused, sending sensory signals to the brain. These signals invoke the brain’s response, thus stimulating it. Brain stimulation can rewire and repair damaged neural connections helping individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
2) Engage with the Surroundings
One major benefit of sensory stimulation is that it helps individuals to connect with their surroundings. When the senses are stimulated, they become more aware of their immediate environment and engage with it actively. This allows them to become more attentive and focused on their surroundings, helping them stay present in the moment and break the cycle of rumination.
3) Reduce Depression and Anxiety
Depression, anxiety, irritability, and agitation are some of the most common symptoms in individuals with Alzheimer’s. The struggle to communicate or feel connected with their surroundings causes loneliness in people living with Alzheimer’s, which is an important psychological factor that leads to anxiety and depression.
With sensory simulation activities, individuals stay engaged and active in the present moment. This promotes relaxation, improves mood, and distracts individuals from negative thoughts and emotions, thus reducing anxiety and depression.
Sensory Stimulation Activities
Caregivers can deploy sensory stimulation therapy in the routine of their loved ones through these simple regular activities:
1) Folding laundry: Engage your loved ones in sorting and folding laundry items such as towels, socks, or washcloths. This activity provides tactile stimulation, as they can feel the textures of different fabrics.
2) Gentle massage: Offer gentle hand or foot massages using lotion or oils. This can provide tactile stimulation, relaxation, and a sense of comfort.
3) Cooking or baking: Cooking and baking simple recipes together not only promote engaging and interactive time but also stimulates various senses. Sensory stimulation from the vibrant smell of spices, and the texture of the soft dough, followed by stimulation of taste buds and a sense of achievement, helps promote healthy brain engagement in individuals with Alzheimer’s.
4) Music therapy: Familiar songs and soothing melodies evoke memories and emotions that help individuals with Alzheimer’s connect with the past. Further, encouraging them to sing, clap, or play simple musical instruments help improve their cognitive function, increase emotional well-being, and reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Several studies have shown music therapy has an incredibly positive impact on the elderly living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, and is increasingly being used as a therapy in these individuals.
5) Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy is the practice of using essential oils with calming scents such as lavender, vanilla, or citrus to improve health and overall well-being. Studies have shown aromatherapy to improve sleep and quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s.
6) Sensory gardens: A sensory garden is a space designed to stimulate and engage the senses using a variety of plants, flowers, and textured materials. People with Alzheimer’s benefit from these gardens by touching, smelling, and observing the different elements. Taking a stroll in this lush greenery improves physical and mental health.
7) Pet therapy: Interacting with animals, such as therapy dogs or cats, can provide comfort and sensory stimulation. Ensure the animals are calm, well-trained, and supervised.
Snoezelen: Multi-Sensory Environment for Effective Stimulation Therapy
Snoezelen treatment stimulates the senses with the help of gentle light, soothing sounds, relaxing smells, and textures to have calming and energizing effects on individuals. By improving overall well-being, this therapy has been shown to positively impact individuals living with dementia.
Snoezelen rooms are called multi-sensory stimulation rooms. With features such as soft lighting, gentle music, aromatic scents, textured surfaces, projected images, and fiber optic lights, amongst many others, these rooms engage multiple senses, thus, providing immediate positive effects on the behavior and mood of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These relaxing spaces reduce agitation and anxiety. Snoezelen rooms provide sensory stimulation in a way that’s engaging and soothing to individuals with Alzheimer’s.
If you have a loved one dealing with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, it is important to encourage them to take up their favorite hobbies and pastime that give them joy, instead of letting them withdraw from those. Simple daily activities serve as sensory stimulation therapy that keeps the brain healthy and has the potential to slow the progress of the condition. While there are ample stimulation activities that you can engage your loved ones in, it is also vital to ensure that these activities are tailored to their individual preferences, abilities, and comfort levels.
At Hummingbird Senior Resort Living, we advocate individualized sensory stimulation activities for our residents at memory care. We promote a fun interactive environment, where the residents feel encouraged to engage in their favorite activities. Our dedicated staff is always around so the residents can have any assistance as needed. We have a carefully planned set of monthly meaningful activities tailored to their interests to enhance their cognitive health. Our residents also have access to secure garden spaces that promote outdoor physical activities and improved mental health and cognitive function.
If you are looking for Memory Care in Sierra Vista, visit Hummingbird Senior Resort Living, which has luxurious resort-style apartments that makes the lives of our residents secure, fun, and comfortable.