An elderly persons hand being gripped

How Sensory Stimulation Can Be Beneficial

11 Jan 2022

According to the World Health Organisation, Dementia is ‘the syndrome in which there is a deterioration in cognitive function beyond what is expected from the usual consequences of biological aging.’ 

One of the biggest victims of this syndrome is the memory: people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia often experience memory loss, lose the ability to make new memories, take longer to retrieve information or even lose the ability to retrieve information entirely. Ways that this normally manifests includes: 

  • Struggling to find the right word in a sentence.
  • Forgetting names of people, places or things.
  • Getting lost in familiar places, regardless of the amount of times the person has been  there. 
  • Forgetting recent events or conversations
  • Losing or misplacing items

As you can imagine, this sensation can be very distressing for someone struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or general dementia, particularly if they are alone. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, there are techniques that one can do in order to impede memory loss. One of the most promising of these is Sensory Stimulation. 

What is Sensory Stimulation

Sensory Stimulation is the process wherein every day sights, sounds, textures, smells and tastes are used to stimulate the mind and to elicit a positive response or feeling. This technique has been used in a number of therapeutic and rehabilitative fields, including early stage development and post-coma rehabilitation. 

One particular area which has seen noticeable benefit from sensory stimulation is with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially at the early stages of the disease where the person in question is still living independently. 

In this use case, sensory stimulation is used because sensory stimulation can help to stimulate long term memories. Through this, the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia can better contextualise the current moment. As a result of this, Sensory Stimulation is an invaluable tool for those providing personal care. 

Key Benefits of Sensory Stimulation

Sensory Stimulation provides five key benefits to people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. These are: 

  1. It improves communication through all five senses – including the communication responsible for the control of these senses. 
  2. It increases levels of concentration. 
  3. It allows for greater recall of past events and experiences. 
  4. Improves the patient’s mood, self-esteem, and overall quality of life. 
  5. Allows for greater participation in social activities and interactions with friends and family. 

Putting Sensory Stimulation Into Practice

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a trained and licensed counsellor or nurse to use sensory stimulation. Anyone can do them, regardless of level of education or experience. 

The following techniques have been found to be particularly effective at triggering improvement in people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia: 

  • Making a memory box filled with items from the person’s past. 
  • Interacting with animals – particularly if the person handling the animal had that animal as a pet at some point. 
  • Take them for a walk through a familiar location – this can be the street where they grew up, a town where they spent a lot of time as a young adult, or anywhere the person feels comfortable. 
  • Brushing their hair and trimming their nails. 
  • Cooking their favourite food for them, in a style they’ll recognise. 
  • Showing them old clothes they wore in the past, as well as asking the person to feel the clothing. 
  • Holding their hand and allowing them to feel the sensation of your skin and your body heat. 
  • Reading their favourite books out loud to them. 

These techniques have been shown to dramatically increase the memory retention of people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and through the encouragement to remember can improve the person’s mood on a day to day basis. 

Personal Care in Telford and Shrewsbury From Hands On Care

Hands on Care is a care agency providing high quality social and personal care in Shrewsbury and Telford, as well as surrounding areas. 

Our well-trained and highly experienced carers provide first class care designed to allow you or your loved ones to continue to stay at home and not have to live in a care home, This ensures that you can continue to live independent at home while also receiving care and support. 

For more information on how we can help you or your loved one, please make an inquiry with us today.

Hands on Care Homecare Services Limited
United House,
Tern Hill,
Market Drayton,
TF9 3PX,
01952 743490