hands-compassion

Caregiving Monday: 10 Activities for sensory stimulation with dementia

Are you looking for ideas for sensory stimulation with your loved one that has dementia?

Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care
Hand massages provides that personal touch and says I care

If you’re not sure what I mean, sensory stimulation uses the five senses of sight, touch, hearing, taste and feel to hopefully evoke positive emotions.

I’ve discussed numerous activities with music, but what are some others that can be completed?

  1. Hand massage or shoulder massage—these are always a big hit when we do them in the nursing facility where I work. {touch}
  2. Relaxation satchel—these don’t have to be fancy and if your loved one is higher functioning s/he can assist you in making them. We used clean new or clean socks and filled them about half full with rice.  We then took drops of one essential oil {such as lavender}, added to the rice and mixed to spread the scent.  We then tied the sock off.  The sock could be used to provoke various memories or to calm an agitated loved one {especially if you use lavender}.    {smell}
  3. You can use a keyboard {or look them up online} to play various sounds and help your loved one recognize what they are. Some examples are a doorbell, train whistle, piano, car horn, etc.   {listening}
  4. Ice cream—this is a treat most people love and can evoke positive memories. Use the treat to reminisce.  {taste}
  5. Pictures—looking through pictures, reminiscing and discussing who each person in the picture is helps with memory recall {seeing}

    ice cream prompts positive memories
    ice cream prompts positive memories
  6. Bubbles—many of my residents love the bubbles. They enjoy both watching them and trying to grab them and make them pop.  This can be a lot of fun.  {seeing, touch}
  7. Flower arranging—the resident can look at the various flowers, sort them by color or type and smell the flowers. {seeing, touch, smell}
  8. Herbal tea party—fix a cup of hot tea and honey, milk, or sugar as desired.  Discuss the flavors found in the tea.    {taste}
  9. Shell discovery—hide shells in a small box or pail and have your loved one pick out different ones and discuss their differences. Even if it’s just how small or large they are this can be a fun activity.   {touch}
  10. Check out a DVD from the library of a place your loved one may have visited or lived in. Videos of scenery or animals are a great idea to discuss what s/he is seeing.  You could also look at pictures of these places s/he has and listen to a CD of music or sounds from that place.  {seeing, listening}

What are some sensory stimulation activities you have used?