Rhino UK invited Joanna Grace to explain how stories can be used within a sensory room and offer some tips...Read article
This week is Dementia Awareness Week. Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer! There is still a lack of understanding and awareness of the disease and therefore many families are facing it alone. Therefore throughout the week, more and more awareness needs to be created through sharing more information about help available, improving care and urgently finding a cure.
What is Dementia?
The term ‘dementia’ describes progressive disorders affecting the brain such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia. These conditions present problems with thinking, mood, behaviour and the ability to take part in everyday activity and leisure.
If a person living with dementia is not kept stimulated through regular activities and spends their time doing practically nothing, they might become increasingly isolated, frustrated, bored and unhappy. Also making the patient more likely to become agitated and emotionally distressed. The lack of activities can also affect their ability to maintain everyday skills such as self-care.
Can Sensory Environments help those with Dementia?
Simple answer, yes, absolutely!
Over recent years providing appropriate sensory stimulation for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia has been proven to decrease agitation and restlessness and also can improve sleep patterns. With these symptoms being extremely common in most kinds of dementia, sensory can, therefore, enrich patients quality of life.
Everyone needs sensory stimulation in order to take in the world around them and, the only way we can get the information into our brains is through our senses; sight, sound, touch, taste, smell and movement. But if we have too much stimulation we can become easily overwhelmed and if we have too little stimulation we can lose the ability to do things and can have a serious effect on our health and well-being.
What Sensory is appropriate for those with Dementia?
A space the patient can go into and have familiar things around them, mainly things from past experiences that may trigger a memory. People with Dementia can think they are back in time and can become very anxious if they get a glance in the mirror of themselves and realise they are 81, not 21! Therefore as carers, we need to make them feel as comfortable as possible, not correcting them when they make reference to an event from the past. This is where the Reminiscence Sensory Rooms come into play.
Engaging in reminiscence activities keeps the person stimulated, involved and active. Also improving their memory and social interaction whilst having fun.
Gentle exercise and stimulation has been proven to increase mental well-being. There is a wide variety of sensory activities and tactile equipment available to encourage this.
Feeling relaxed and secure increases a person’s well-being by encouraging better sleep patterns and calming behaviour.
It is important that we help people living with advanced Dementia LIVE not just exist. Keeping a person clean, fed and groomed is not living, this is merely existing. People need to be engaged in meaningful activities, feel wanted, loved and need to feel as if they still can contribute. In recent years a lot of research has gone into this subject and you may have come across the terminology ‘Namaste Care’.
Namaste Care is a program designed to improve the quality of life for people with advanced Dementia. Namaste is a Hindu term meaning “to honour the spirit within” and was selected for this program as the main purpose is to bring honour to people who can no longer tell us who they are or who they were or care for themselves without assistance.
Namaste involves one-to-one care during daily sessions in a comfortable, communal space with gentle stimulation of the senses.