Dementia: How a Sensory Room Can Promote Patient Wellness

Rooms for Seniors with Dementia

More commonly used in spaces that involve children, sensory rooms are quickly emerging as an effective wellness option for adults dealing with conditions like dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These sensory-focused spaces can help seniors immerse in a space that suits their needs- whether that be calming or stimulating, and find solace from a world that is becoming increasingly confusing for them.

Benefits of a sensory room for dementia patients

Treatment and coping methods are constantly evolving with diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s. As we learn more about them, we become better equipped with ideas for how to live with these diseases and care for those who have them. One of the more recent additions to a care routine is a sensory room or space. There are many benefits to adding a sensory space to a dementia or Alzheimer’s patient’s living area.

1. Reduce anxiety

The many tools and activities in a sensory space can work as a distraction from situations that may induce anxiety. A sensory space is often designed to be calm and relaxing, which also helps reduce anxiety.

2. Provides a safe space to explore

When sensory room tools and activities are chosen carefully, they can help create a space that encourages visitors to explore their interests at will, without worry that they’ll encounter something that may be unsafe.

3. Helps facilitate social interaction

For those living in a care home or facility there may be limited opportunities for social interaction, especially if each tenant is at a different stage of the disease. A sensory space can provide some common ground for patients and help them interact with each other, as well as with their loved ones.

4. Improves patient-caregiver communication and relationships

Observing an individual explore their sensory space can give caregivers a better look at what interests the patient. This will help them form better relationships and gain some insight into tools that can be used when the patient is in need of support. 

5. Helps create calmness, boost moods and increase happiness

The reduction of memory and brain function can create anxiety, stress and unhappiness in anyone dealing with dementia. A sensory space offers these individuals a chance to focus on simple and fun activities rather than the things that they may struggle to do. This diversion can help reduce violent, aggressive and angry outbursts.

6. Boost confidence

People living with dementia often experience a reduced ability to complete tasks independently or take care of themselves. This can lead to a reduction in their confidence. A sensory space that allows for autonomy and self-guided activity can help people with dementia rediscover their confidence and ability to complete targeted tasks.

What to include in a sensory space for dementia patients

The ideas for what to include in a sensory space for dementia patients are endless. Any items that can stimulate one or more of a person’s senses can be incorporated into the space. Some ideas that you can include are:

  • Sensory blankets or pillows – often handmade, these blankets or pillows can be adorned with any kind of tactile items like zippers, buttons, Velcro, fun-feeling fabrics, bright colours, and unique trims.
  • Use soft lighting and music
  • Photo albums
  • Soft seating, pillows and blankets
  • Play old movies, family videos and favourite music
  • Install a projector to provide visual stimulation, games, interactive activities and fun for visitors
  • Incorporate both simple, familiar household items, and some more advanced tools like puzzles and technology-based activities
  • Try to include something that will stimulate each of the senses
  • A Budii Interactive projector for floor or tabletop games and activities
  • Virtual reality technology, especially if the visitors will enjoy the ability to transport virtually to a different setting or location

Sensory rooms are an important part of patient wellness

Creating a sensory space that allows people who are living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to immerse in a safe and entertaining environment is a beneficial step in treating and managing the disease. The opportunity to explore and stimulate their senses helps foster positive experiences, improves communication and understanding, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves their ability to focus. Spending time in a sensory space with a loved one or caregiver can help improve relationships and allow for more quality time together, without the stressors of everyday life getting in the way. A sensory room is an ideal part of a healthy wellness routine.