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How Sensory Activities Can Benefit Dementia Patients

Written on . Posted in Dementia, Sensory Room, Sensory Tips

Sensory stimulation is an essential part of our everyday lives, helping to improve everything from our mood and self-confidence to our cognition. However, it can become increasingly difficult to provide adequate, age-appropriate sensory stimulation for patients with dementia.





Effective Sensory Activities for Dementia Patients

When choosing your sensory activities, it is important to consider the ability level of the patient. A person in the early stages of dementia will be able to perform more complex tasks, and so their activities should be designed with this in mind.

Past hobbies can also be used to get the most out of the activity. Tasks may also differ from activities designed for autism and other conditions, which are often tailored towards younger, more agile people with different needs.

  1. Hand massages

A hand massage is a form of tactile stimulation, and it can be used to calm the person and reduce feelings of loneliness. A study by Remington R examined the effects of calming music and hand massages on agitated dementia patients.

The study found that performing these actions reduced agitation more than if the caregiver didn’t intervene, and the benefits of it were sustained, and even saw improvement, for up to an hour after the sensory activity.

Our Handy Hint:

Hand massages are a great way to connect with a later stage dementia patient who struggles with other forms of communication. Use scented massage oil like lavender for a multisensory effect.

You should also consult with the resident and their primary caregiver before you perform a massage. Some people won’t like to be touched, and your efforts could unintentionally cause more stress.


  1. Time in a Multisensory Environment

An age-appropriate multisensory environment with soft lighting, ambient sounds and soothing scents can be a fantastic addition to an assisted living facility. Designed for residents in dementia’s later stages, it can be used to alleviate stress and anxiety while improving mood.

Our Handy Hint:

Experia USA are experts in designing multisensory rooms for assisted living facilities. Get in touch to inquire, or learn more about the benefits of multisensory environments in dementia care here.


  1. Gardening

Gardening is a fantastic, motivational activity that can really appeal to dementia residents. Investing in a small and manageable planter box can encourage reminiscence in past gardeners, as well as alleviate stress and anxiety.

Our Handy Hint:

Gardening is a tactile activity; however, it can also stimulate our visual and olfactory senses. Try incorporating a selection of colorful flowers or floral scents for a multisensory effect.


  1. Cooking

Cooking is a multisensory activity that benefits patients in the early to late stages of dementia. A person with a high ability level may be able to follow a simple recipe with supervision. As the condition progresses, activities involving one element such as kneading dough can provide adequate stimulation.

The versatility of cooking means that it can be used to successfully integrate people in the different stages of the condition. A study performed in 2002 by ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­S. Fitzsimmons and L. Buettner, explored the effects of a therapeutic cooking program on dementia residents. It found:

“…the results do indicate a positive effect on behaviors when cooking was used as a therapeutic intervention.”

“Although there were direct benefits for all the participants, there were indirect benefits for other residents on the unit as well. The smells, sounds, and location of the program made it highly visible. Staff, family members, and residents frequently sat nearby to watch.”

“Each day at the end of the program, the participants did not wish to split up but wanted to stay together as a group, and they would often remain together talking or going for a walk.”

Our Handy Hint:

When planning your cooking activity, try to think about how you can incorporate the different senses. For example, using familiar scents, such as cinnamon, can help with reminiscence. Cooking activities can also be great for caregivers, helping to alleviate stress and add variation to their routine.

At Experia USA, we’re experts in providing high-quality sensory equipment and environments for dementia care. To learn more about our sensory rooms or to inquire about any of our products, please reach out to us by calling 1-800-882-4045.

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