When a loved one is diagnosed with one of the many forms of dementia, it can be difficult to reach them where they are. They are likely facing a large number of changes in both their physical reactions and their emotions, and they may not know how to handle everything that’s changing around them. Not only can their tastes and eyesight change, but so can their ability to smell and process sound, causing a number of sensory changes that can frustrate and upset them.

“While there isn’t anything that can be done to help reverse the damage of dementia, there may be some ways that you can help ease the symptoms and side effects,” says Cydney Hansen, Marketing Director, at CountryHouse, a memory care community in Granite Bay, California. “Research is finding that sensory stimulation can help trigger feelings, emotions, memories and even connections between your loved one and their past, no matter what stage of dementia they might be in. Not only can this significantly help improve the everyday lives of seniors with dementia, but it can help increase their self-esteem, improve their mood and decrease their risks of depression.”  

What is Sensory Stimulation?

Sensory stimulation therapy can trigger positive memories and experiences in a senior with dementia by engaging the five senses. Because sensory-stimulating activities have shown to benefit dementia patients in an increasing number of ways, many senior living communities are beginning to implement it and see improvements in their residents. While many people still don’t know much about sensory stimulation therapy, it’s a good idea to get informed so you can implement it with your own loved ones.

Sensory-Stimulating Activities for Loved Ones with Dementia

If you are caring for someone with dementia, it can help to use sensory stimulation therapy with your loved one at home. Try some of the following suggestions on how to engage your loved one with dementia’s senses and see how it improves their mood and mindset.

  • Smell. Consider how you feel when you smell something from your past that you used to love. Did it bring up positive memories? The same feelings can occur in a senior with dementia when their sense of smell is stimulated. Did their significant other wear a certain cologne or perfume that they would remember the scent of? Does the smell of their favorite food make them light up? Consider baking cookies, giving a massage with one of their favorite scents, trying aromatherapy or visiting a greenhouse.
  • Sight. If possible, take your loved one on an outing to a place they love to visit. Seeing a place they love can cause their happiness to increase and boost their mood. If it’s not possible to go somewhere, make a memory box for your loved one filled with mementos and photo albums that you can go through together and enjoy. This can have the same effect without ever leaving your home.
  • Taste. Did your loved one’s family make a special meal for their birthday? Did they have a favorite dessert over the holidays? Try making your loved one’s favorite meal and enjoy it together. Figure out a candy from their childhood that they enjoyed or make them their favorite drink. These seemingly simple things can actually make a large difference in your loved one’s mood and can evoke memories from days of long ago.
  • Sound. Songs have the ability to make us go back in time and remember things we had long forgotten. Have you ever been driving when a song comes on from your childhood that you haven’t heard in years and suddenly start singing along because you remember the words? Playing music for your loved one can have the same effect and cause them to move and dance, even if they previously didn’t move too much. If your loved one has always loved the beach and it’s possible for you, take them so they can hear the seagulls, the waves crashing and the wind. This can deeply increase their happiness.
  • Touch. Some petting zoos, aquariums and museums have special days that seniors with dementia can come to enjoy some quiet time. Petting zoos and aquariums with touch tanks are great ideas to help seniors stimulate their sense of touch. Some museums even have hands-on activities for visitors. Other ways you can stimulate their sense of touch is by pet therapy or creating stress balls.

For more information on how to use sensory stimulation activities with your loved one with dementia, call the team at CountryHouse at Granite Bay at 916•778•9665.

Treating people like family is at the heart of what we do.

CountryHouse at Granite Bay is the very first CountryHouse location in California. With a desirable location among Folsom Lake and the Sierra foothills, and only 25 miles northeast of Sacramento, Granite Bay was the perfect area to place our upscale memory care community. While CountryHouse at Granite Bay may be brand new to California, we are certainly not new to the needs of seniors. And just like every CountryHouse around the United States, we know that personalized care can make all the difference when it comes to quality care and peace of mind.

At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we provide personalized memory care in an environment that is beautiful and thoughtfully designed. Full of natural light, warmth and tasteful elegance, we want residents and their families to feel welcome and at home. In fact, our staff members are even hand-picked based on their natural empathy. Our staff learns each resident’s story, from their likes and dislikes,to their values and their pasts, in order to customize care and make meaningful connections that provide residents with true moments of joy and the desire to make the most of each day.

With our LifeCycles wellness programming, we encourage residents to connect, engage and enjoy every day. Our LifeCycles programming is designed to focus on the four dimensions of wellness: physical, social, spiritual and intellectual. We achieve this through a range of daily activities and routines, which can include daily bus rides, cookouts, trips and other special events. At CountryHouse at Granite Bay, we strive to make sure our residents make the most of each day, and we believe that when you treat people like family, and keep that at the heart of what you do, residents, their families and their health thrive. Contact us to learn more!

Connect with us today or call us at 916•778•9665 for more information or to schedule a visit.

CountryHouse is part of the Agemark family of senior living communities.