Improvements in health care have led to the introduction of new care options one of them being sensory rooms for dementia.
Our extensive overview helps you get familiar with the rooms and how they can POSITIVELY impact the individual.
Alzheimer’s.net describes sensory rooms as special places for persons living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease to explore and stimulate all five senses safely.
Sensory Rooms for Patients with Dementia
In the past, these spaces were mainly in use to help younger people with physical or learning disabilities.
Experts uncovered that sensory rooms can also be useful for people with different types of dementia.
The rooms can either be used for stimulating or calming an individual depending on what they need.
Read on to find out more about the sensory rooms including what they feature, their benefits, research into the topic, and whether they offer healing to persons with dementia.
Features of Sensory Rooms
Different types of sensory rooms for dementia exist.
Some are high-tech unique environments with trailblazing technology while others are basic rooms featuring comfortable furniture, tactile objects, and other engaging and simple objects.
It goes to show that no two sensory rooms are identical.
The primary aim of the room is to stimulate senses of taste, sound, sight, movement, and smell. Offering a wide range of activities that helps with concentration while offering relaxation or stimulation dependent on sensory need.
These special spaces can have a combination of different ELEMENTS such as:
- Gentle light
- Music/sound beams
- Tactile objects
- Bean bags
- Bubble walls and tubes
- Soft textiles and floor mats
- Acrylic mirrors
- Interesting things to taste and smell
- Fibre optics
- Familiar everyday objects
At the end of the day, a sensory room should offer several factors to the persons using it and these should include:
- It should be age-appropriate and usable
- Be safe and comfortable
- Offer a multi-sensory experience
- Have no clutter (a clear free space)
- Provide relaxation and stimulation
- Offer interaction and control
Do Sensory Rooms offer Healing?
It is important to note that to date, there is still no approved cure for dementia.
Persons with dementia can, however, benefit from the use of sensory rooms for dementia in multiple ways.
Dr. Anke Jakob from Kingston University in London says that the sensory rooms can HELP ENHANCE feelings of comfort and wellbeing, relieve pain and stress, and maximize an individual’s potential to focus.
The doctor reckons that the above can help enhance memory and communication.
Benefits of Sensory Rooms
Individuals living with dementia can enjoy a variety of benefits when using sensory rooms for dementia and some of them include:
- Enhanced mood
- Increased knowledge and understanding of the environment
- Declined frequency in disruptive, aggressive, violent, and oppositional behaviors
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased interpersonal interaction
- Less fear
- Enhanced caretaker-patient communication
- Low risk and non-invasive therapy
- Develops and engages senses
- Boosts autonomy and confidence
- Offers a diverse and rich experience
- Improved social and language skills
- Reduced reliance on medication, etc.
Research into the Effectiveness of Sensory Rooms for Dementia
Several studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of sensory rooms for persons who are living with dementia.
An example is Occupational Therapy research at Southampton which revealed that multi-sensory environments can assist in preserving occupational and cognitive behavior.
In an interview with New Boundaries, Dr, Lesley Collier a senior lecturer in occupational therapy at the University of Southampton reported that the research involved modifying stimuli amounts and adjusting sensory input to meet sensory needs.
This was based on the fact that the environment around the person with dementia contributes to cognitive deterioration.
The main aim of the research was to work with individuals living with dementia to try and reduce symptoms by allowing the affected individuals to practice daily tasks in a sensory stimulation and controlled environment.
Professionals conducting the research started by observing a person with dementia in a multi-sensory room.
A person can become more focused
They said that they noticed that he has become more focused and would pick up equipment, smile, vocalize, and proceed to move on.
This was the opposite of the “normal behavior” he exhibited which was usually an inability to settle on any activity and aggression.
Following this study, the researchers went on to collaborate with Rompa the firm that produces the Snoezelen room.
This is a kind of multi-sensory environment for use in hospitals, therapy centers, care homes, schools, and homes.
Professionals stated that individuals who spent time in structured multi-sensory rooms enjoyed more independence in functional performance.
They carry out daily living activities like putting on their shoes and using a fork and knife to eat with little performance errors.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends the use of multi-sensory activities for persons with dementia as a result of this research.
Dr. Collier also stated that she is working with therapists and representatives in different parts of the globe to assist persons with dementia get the maximum benefit from multi-sensory treatments.
Moving forward, more research will be conducted to get a better understanding of how specific sensory input influences performance. Dr, Lesley is interested in monitoring brain activity while a person living with dementia is using a multi-sensory room.
Even as more research is needed into the effectiveness of sensory rooms for dementia, there is evidence that they can be helpful to persons living with dementia.
They only need to be designed well and have appropriate elements that will be useful to the people in need.
The sensory rooms can be in care homes, hospitals, or even in homes depending on the stage of dementia a person is in.