In this blog, we’ll look at how to ensure your sensory room for dementia care is comfortable and familiar to dementia patients, providing a multisensory experience while preserving the person’s dignity.
First and foremost, a sensory room for dementia should be comfortable, allowing the user the space to relax and soothe any potential anxiety they might have. Some ways to achieve a comfortable space include:
• Neutral room – aim to have the walls and floor of the room a light, neutral color. Avoid patterns, as they can be confusing.
• Visually calm – the space should be clear of any clutter, including wires and unnecessary decorations or accessories. Use storage solutions to put away any sensory equipment not in use.
• Furnishings – all large furnishings should be comfortable. Aim for soft fabrics, with texture where possible, and for furnishings to be in comfortable positions.
• Lighting – bright, overhead lights are not ideal for people with dementia. Instead, look for soft, sensory lighting that is dimmable and has the option to change its color. Filter out bright daylight using blinds or thin curtains.
For more tips, we dedicated a blog post to the best ways to create a dementia-friendly environment.
A common issue with multisensory rooms for dementia in care homes is that, unlike sensory rooms for young people, too much technology can look alien to those with dementia, thereby making the space less attractive. It’s important to keep the space looking familiar.
• Nature – bringing nature into the room is a great sensory room idea for dementia because it can help keep the room feeling more normal. Plants can be great for this, as well as using a projector to cast images and sounds of nature scenes.
• Familiar items – place some older clothes and hats in the room, play some music from their youth, and, if possible, bring in items that they would have been familiar with (such as tools they would have worked with or baking equipment).
• Personalize the room – as far as possible, try to make the experience personal for each user. This might involve changing what familiar items are placed in the room, or the music or clothes. Cultural relevance is important here – if they’re from a different country, try to find relevant things to remind them of where they lived when they were younger.
For example, Glenner Town Square opened in Southern California in 2018. It’s a care center opened as a way to support dementia patients and their care givers while immersing them in the world of 1953-1961 (the time period that most of the visitors would have been between 10 and 30) through the use of familiar shopfronts, services and interactive groups.
Check out our previous blog post for more ideas of activities to do with dementia patients.
Providing a multisensory environment for dementia patients is a great way to encourage them to engage more completely. Sensory activities can provide many benefits for dementia patients, including alleviating stress, anxieties and improving mood.
Multisensory rooms for dementia should have a pleasant climate – too warm or cold could cause discomfort and stop a user from fully enjoying the room. In addition, aromatherapy and sound and music therapy can be very useful, whether that’s familiar music and sounds or the mesmerizing sound of a bubble tube or projected environment.
Tactile stimulation is also important – our Perfect Petzz can be held and stroked, and they even breathe realistically. This makes them comforting and soothing. Our fiber optic strands are also ideal for touching, as they are safe, lightweight and can provide a pleasant tactile sensation.
One of the most important things you can do for dementia patients is to ensure they are always respected and dignified. Some dementia patients can have moments of clarity or perceived clarity (such as being sure that they are with a certain person, even if they’re mistaking them for someone else), so it’s important not to patronize them.
Some key guidelines to achieve this are:
• Don’t make a dementia patient feel silly if they don’t know what something is – put it down and move on.
• Don’t talk down to them or speak to them like they’re children.
• Don’t give them toys designed for children or that look like kids’ toys. For example, while a shape-sorting toy might be a great way to practice fine motor skills, if the blocks are bright, primary colors, it might feel condescending to the user.
Please see our blog for more tips on helping someone with dementia live comfortably and find more tips for multisensory rooms for dementia. Also, if you’d like to create your own sensory room, please get in touch to book a free sensory room design, so we can help you provide the best environment for your users.