Sensory Stimulation for Dementia Care

The symptoms of dementia can impact your life in many ways. Memory loss can create feelings of fear and anxiety, especially when it comes to socializing. For dementia patients living in care communities, like Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, they have the added benefit of social support. For those living alone, the anxiety of social interaction can cause patients to spend a lot of time alone. However, social interaction is important because it can slow the symptoms of dementia, including memory loss, as well as help to improve eating habits and sleep.

If you are a caretaker for a loved one with dementia or other forms of cognitive impairment, relieving anxiety is a large part of helping your loved one to live a life they enjoy. In addition to social interaction, sensory activities can help to calm anxiety and relieve feelings of anger or agitation. To get started, it is important to know how to employ sensory stimulation for dementia care and to recognize what activities are good for dementia patients.

What are Sensory Stimulation Activities?

While most people are comfortable with the sensory stimulation from social activities or running errands in public, many people with dementia find these experiences overwhelming. This is because dementia can cause a sense of fear and confusion that prevents patients from experiencing sensory stimulation in their daily lives.

Sensory stimulation for dementia care involves activating one or more of the senses, including hearing, touch, vision, smell and taste. The activities can range from listening to a favorite song to a hand massage with scented lotion to a designed sensory experience. These experiences can help dementia patients to recall positive emotions and memories, while encouraging them to engage with the people around them.

Providing dementia patients with ways to express their ideas and feelings, other than with words, can help them to relax and can build their self-esteem. In addition to bringing out positive feelings, sensory stimulation for dementia care can help patients to ask questions and learn to remain calm in stressful circumstances. Other benefits include:

  • Increasing alertness and concentration
  • Maintaining daily function
  • Improving cognitive symptoms
  • Easing communication
  • Encouraging participation in social activities
  • Creating opportunities for trips down memory lane

What Activities are Good for Dementia Patients?

Memory care specialists and physicians agree, sensory therapy is effective in improving mood, calming nerves, reducing anxiety and providing a feeling of calm and comfort. So, what activities are good for dementia patients? Here are six ideas for sensory stimulation for dementia to get you started:

Scented cards

These sensory cards are great ways to trigger emotions and memories. Using any type of paper or index card that can fit in your hand, attach a small amount of a scent that will inspire your loved one. Some top suggestions include pine needles, grass and flower petals.

Coin sorting

Sorting coins into small bowls or jars is a fun way to give your loved one a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Save up your loose change to use for this activity.

Aquarium sensory bag

Fill a plastic bag with water beads and add items that are appealing to your loved one – ocean items, sports equipment, flowers – then seal the bag shut. Your loved one will enjoy feeling the items and moving them around in the bag.

Tying knots

A loop board is a wonderful way to occupy your loved one’s mind, while giving their hand-eye coordination a challenge. This can be as easy as using a board with screw eyes and shoelaces – just provide enough shoelace for your loved one to try different types of knots.

Popping bubble wrap

This simple activity is fun for people of all ages. Save the bubble wrap when you receive a package in the mail and bring it to your loved one. Sit together and enjoy the satisfying “Pop!” as you go through the bubbles.

Finger paint

Creating art is a wonderful way to calm the mind. Non-toxic finger paint will allow your loved one to use his or her hands to create something fun and beautiful.

An Engaging and Supportive Environment

The experts at Dixon Rehabilitation and Health Care Center create care plans that are unique to each resident. Those plans can include components that support your mental, physical and emotional health, as well as including social activities. The most stimulating activities for dementia and Alzheimer’s include social engagement. In addition to supporting your health and recovery goals, the Dixon team is ready to establish fun and stimulating social activities to keep you looking forward to the day ahead.

To learn more about the community at Dixon Rehabilitation, contact us and visit today!