Sensory activities are not just important for people struggling with dementia, but for all older people, because focusing on elements in our environment that we can see, hear, taste, smell or feel, can be a convenient way to manage stress and calm down. Sensory activities use everyday items to evoke one or more of the five senses, so as to provoke a positive emotional response.
Dementia often makes it difficult to communicate with words, so art, photos, smells and familiar music can really help trigger emotions and memories. Sensory stimulation is an easy way to bring enjoyment using everyday objects and scenery. When a person living with dementia is not provided with appropriate activities, they can become bored, lonely and unhappy – this can exacerbate the symptoms of dementia. Sensory activities are very useful in this instance, as they can bring some variation and joy. Activities can be personalised to the individual, which is key in providing person centred care.
Why are sensory activities important for adults with dementia?
Sensory activities and exercises can be easy for those living with dementia to understand and engage with. There are countless sensory activities that can be simply initiated in a care home environment, or with your loved one in their home. Stimulating the senses can also sometimes help people living with dementia to recall memories.
When considering what sensory activities to offer your loved one living with dementia, you must consider their capacity based on the stage of dementia that they are experiencing - sensory activities are more effective for those with later stage dementia. Effective person centred care is also achieved when the activity is personalised in relation to their interests, so getting to know who you are caring for is a must. Finally, consider all potential risks, such as choking hazards.
What are some sensory activities for adults?
Sensory activities are often inexpensive, and can be done using items you may already have at home, such as coins, bubble wrap, paint, and music.
A few examples of sensory activities that are easily achieved are:
- Utilising outdoor spaces, gardening, and picking fragrant flowers or herbs
- A short walk to take in the outdoor scenery
- Singing along to familiar music
- Screening nostalgic old films
- Creative based activities such as drawing, knitting or painting (putting together a memory box or scrap book is very interactive)
- Hand massage to reduce anxiety and agitation
- Pet therapy
- Aromatherapy (fragrances can evoke strong reactions and memories in most people, and certain smells such as lavender can be very relaxing)
B&M’s Sensory Activity Plan
Our Engagement Leads at B&M Care are trained in how to occupy residents using sensory activities, and they often use their own imagination and initiative to arrange unique and interesting sensory activities that can be enjoyed by all in the home. B&M also makes sure that each home has a designated, well landscaped garden space where it is easy to find a multitude of sensory activities and exercises outdoors.
Innovations in sensory technology for adults is modernising the care industry, and is always thoroughly enjoyed by residents. For example, the use of Magic Tables, which are large interactive screens, or projector style interactive tables where residents can play games and watch calming visuals. At B&M Care we utilise this, and we have also created our own ‘home away from a care home,’ The Hideaway, which is a countryside cottage available for all residents to visit, filled with a plethora of sensory activities, such as cooking, games, nature and art.