At Autumn View Gardens, we make sure memory care patients have the highest quality of life possible and enjoy living in the community. Sensory stimulation is one of the most important therapies for seniors with memory care issues. It helps support communication, better sleep, overall mood and many other key factors for a happy life.
Sensory stimulation therapy is a treatment for people with dementia that uses the five senses. It’s shown to be beneficial to the mental state and life of people with memory care issues. The therapy can involve anything that has someone interact with objects which are meant to spark positive emotions and memories. Overall, sensory stimulation therapy is about improving quality of life and creating good experiences.
Sensory stimulation also helps combat dissociation in people with memory issues. Dissociation refers to the disconnect someone feels to life and their identity. For people with memory problems, it can become difficult for them to communicate and express themselves. And when someone starts to feel they can’t interact with the world and others, they may feel isolated and dissociative. Stimulating the senses can help ground someone with a memory care issue because it ties their personal experience to the world outside of themselves and helps them connect.
Listening to everything from rain to a favorite song can be extremely therapeutic and revive old memories associated with those sounds. Auditory stimulation can be one of the best ways to evoke emotive calm because sound is generally tied to emotions. Poetry and story readings are also used as part of this therapy.
Touch is our most direct sense, and it can be very grounding. Interacting with different textured objects and performing tasks like cooking are all forms of tactile stimulation therapy, and holding an old keepsake can spark memories.
Vision is probably the most important sense to stimulate for people with memory decline. Most memory care related diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia affect vision processing, and stimulating it may lessen the decline of visual function. Exposure to sunlight and watching films both help activate the visual systems.
Olfactory therapy stimulates the sense of smell. Since smell is closely tied to deep memories, finding familiar scents is one of the most effective ways to unlock old memories. The smell of a favorite food, a perfume an old friend used to wear and even the smell of a particular wood could be the key to many precious memories.
This form of stimulation focuses on taste and the experience of eating. Eating different foods and trying a variety of seasoning helps find a taste that relates to specific memories. But this treatment can also help memory care residents enjoy and experience a tasty meal.
Snoezelen rooms are basically the opposite of sensory deprivation chambers. They provide a large amount of multi-sensory input simultaneously. Whether this treatment is appropriate for or effective for dementia is debated. The excessive input may be overwhelming for people with dementia or Alzheimer's.
One of the biggest benefits of sensory stimulation is better quality sleep. People with dementia tend to have fragmented sleep cycles at night, causing them to be groggy during the day and take naps. Studies have shown that more sensory stimulation can help support longer continuous stretches of sleep at night. Getting better sleep is a huge factor in improving quality of life because it helps seniors feel more alert and in a better mood while they’re awake.
Sensory stimulation can also help support and improve cognitive function, which can help seniors with memory care issues feel more capable and independent. Accomplishments, such as making a bed, cleaning and having a good conversation, can be important for moral and overall happiness. The improved cognition and calm mood from sensory stimulation can go a long way in reaching those goals.
The best sensory stimulation therapy methods incorporate stimulation into everyday life. This helps seniors get a consistent flow of sensory information throughout their day and as part of their routine. And, luckily, it’s not too difficult to do in a community environment. Every part of the day can be a sensory experience. Eating with community friends, taking a walk in the gardens or even taking a bath promote sensory stimulation. The important part is creating safe opportunities for these experiences and gently encouraging more interaction with the world.
The staff at Autumn View Gardens in Ellisville make sure residents with memory care issues have stimulating and social experience everyday. Residents interact with pets, sing songs and smell flowers in the secure garden. All of these seemingly small events add up to an increased quality of life and well-being.
The community setting of Autumn View Gardens provides residents with social stimulation as well. Seniors tend to enjoy the highest quality of life when they have daily social interactions and can make meaningful connections with those around them. Family-style dining and community lounges enable and promote these experiences and friendships.