We all agree that Dementia research has come a long way over the past few years. From doctors implying that being ‘forgetful’ is a normal part of ageing, to companies actively creating technology to help fight this horrendous disease.
One of the most common ways to ease the symptoms of Dementia is to place a sensory object or two in your loved one’s room. Or take them to places where there are soft lights, many things to touch and calming music – for this reason, spas, sensory centres and exhibitions are good venues for those with Dementia.
Sensory rooms aren’t just ideal for people with Dementia either; they help individuals with a variety of cognitive issues as well as Autism and brain trauma from serious accidents. While young children tend to be over-stimulated by light, colour and sound, older people tend to respond in a calmer manner – especially if there’s a relaxation element involved.
For instance, a twenty-minute meditation using an aurora light projector or nature sounds tape usually calms the loudest mental chatter. Other people rely on ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response videos that relax a person through sound, wordplay and even keyboard typing!
Relaxation is vital for those living with Dementia as it can sometimes be tricky for someone to explain what their wants and needs are. This often leads to anger, frustration or communication withdrawal which is why sensory objects are perfect. Why? Because you don’t need to talk or move to look at a bubble tube, light ball or colour changing cushion.
You don’t have to do anything other than smell to enjoy a scentscape, nor focus on anything other than the soft, gentle music playing. Sensory rooms don’t have to be expensive either: focus on what your loved one enjoy be it water, sand, music, the smell of lavender, chocolate or fresh grass.
For example, if your female relative loves a specific classic perfume a few spritzes in the air is great. Even zips, buttons and ribbons could evoke distant memories if the person wore a particular dress or coat often. Remember, consider their individual needs before you arrange anything and that ‘less is always more’ when it comes to creating sensory spaces.
The right kind of lighting is also imperative because lets face it, strong, white ‘clinical’ light gives anyone a headache! Create a soft diffused glow by placing shaded lamps around the room and replace bulbs for lower energy ones. A) These tend to be less bright and B) They’re better for the environment. All that being said, as long as you think about your loved one, their likes and dislikes and what helps to relax them then you can’t go far wrong.
Need some inspiration?
It’s definitely on the bigger side, and it wasn’t designed for dementia but we felt January’s Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival wasn’t just beautiful, but pretty dementia friendly too. Winter Lights is an annual free event where artists incorporate light, sound and colour to create amazing giant art installations. We know that 99% of people don’t have this kind of space, nor budget, but we hope our photos inspire you to create sensory magic on a much smaller scale! We sent our founder Emily around the light show to find out more and she shares her photos with us later in this post.
There are some fantastic options in sensory needs magazines, or through online retailers but be aware prices vary hugely so do shop around.
We hope that you enjoy all the pictures and video and that they spark your imagination in the same way they did ours!