Sensory Therapy for those suffering from Dementia: Coming to the Senses
What is Coming to the Senses?
Coming to the Senses is a program designed by Center for Hospice Care to meet the special end of life needs of those with dementia. This is a special program for patients with a diagnosis of dementia who may be cared for at home, in a Skilled Nursing Facility or an Assisted Living Facility.
After assessing each patient’s specific needs, our staff offers family members suggestions for a variety of sensory stimuli that include aromatic, soothing, tactile, musical, and other objects that help calm the senses and re-connect the patient to whatever was most comforting or significant earlier in their life.
Creating a collection that sparks long-term memories
Once the initial assessment is complete and special items have been collected, a Sensory Bag is given to the patient. The family may add items that best fit their loved one’s interests such as medals, keepsakes, the wedding ring of a deceased spouse, memory fabrics, a soft stuffed animal or a forget-me-not memory box consisting of photos and memorabilia. The intent is to assemble multiple mementos to which the long-term memory can still attach meaning.
The power of sensory experience
Patients in the last stages of dementia experience the deterioration of cognitive processes, yet sensory reactions often remain active. Touch, hearing, smell, taste and sight continue to be an “open window” that allows the patient to experience calm, caring comfort even into the late stages of the disease.
For family members, the program provides a history of what their loved one has enjoyed, valued and held dear or important in their lives. It brings family members together in a positive way.
All issues of privacy or confidentiality that need to be observed can be addressed.