Recently, we’ve done quite a few videos / blogs / features on the importance on sensory stimulation for people living with dementia. Why? Because simply not enough is being said / done and there are still care / nursing homes where residents engage in no sensory play whatsoever! We’ve gone big, with our DC Challenge Sensory Shelves but we also wanted to show you that even a shoe box is fantastic for anyone on bed rest as it just sits neatly on the side.
DC founder, Emily- Jane Stapley has been kind enough to film a little video of what’s inside her mother’s sensory box and it’s a real treasure trove. First up, let’s talk about the box itself. Aren’t those butterflies gorgeous? You could buy a printed one, pop stickers on a plain box or perhaps use a box that’s special to your loved one. Whatever you choose to do just be sure to include lots of items that promote sensory stimulation through light, sound, touch, smell and shape.
You’ll notice that there’s an adorable cat toy sitting there with its paws in the air too! Soft toys, and dolls are very important for those with dementia as they can offer much needed comfort as well as being something to cuddle. Research has shown that soft toys can help bring back memories of loved ones, ie someone’s children or help them to remember a pleasant childhood memory of their own.
Next, we have some dominoes as they are small, make a nice sound and are pleasing to hold in your hands. They are also easy to play with and you only need to gently push them, with a fingertip, if someone’s set them up for you. Brightly coloured objects, like these wiggly, squiggly worms, are ideal; not only are they small, furry and fun to play with but your loved one with dementia will be able to really feel them sliding through their fingers.
Light up objects, and toys are not only great fun but they help to focus the eyes and give your loved one something pleasing to look at. Whether it’s a string of fairy lights, some flashing bouncy balls, a light up toy or these funny, fluffy dinosaurs it doesn’t matter- just try to include a visually stimulating object that lights up the room! You can even get inexpensive sensory aids like these rainbow projection boxes which display bright colours on walls and ceilings.
Touch is so important, so include as many different textured objects as possible – from soft, squidgy and rubbery to smooth, lacy and fluffy. You never know what your loved one may remember by stroking a certain item, and they’ll love exploring everything with you. Lastly, don’t forget sound and smell because these tend to be the two things that usually bring back memories!
A spritz of a familiar scent, like a favourite perfume, or even a potted plant like sage, thyme or jasmine will give off a pleasing aroma. Think about what music your loved one likes too. Have a CD player going or a music box with a variety of tunes / relaxation sounds. These may seem like only small changes but they can make a huge difference to someone living with dementia!