Building a Sensory Stimulation Room in the Home
By Jacqueline Hatch
What is a sensory stimulation room?
A sensory stimulation room is a space that engages the senses and provides a calming atmosphere for relaxation. It’s meant to create a comforting space where people can go to experience soothing sounds, sensational aromas, stimulating visuals, and gentle movement.
How can it benefit my loved one with dementia?
A sensory stimulation room is a great addition to any home in which you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Symptoms of this progressive disorder can include difficult emotions like confusion, anger, and frustration. With a multi-sensory room in the home, you can provide a safe space for your loved one to go when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
Research has shown that sensory stimulation is successful in helping loved ones with cognitive decline feel more comforted and connected to their surroundings. According to Alzheimers.net, “ sensory stimulation encourages memories and responses of seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s. For instance, art or photos can trigger memories and emotions for seniors who no longer speak.” These can all be incorporated into your own sensory stimulation room at home. Additionally, experts say that “Sensory stimulation is intended to bring enjoyment to seniors with dementia, reduce their anxiety and depression, and increase their social interaction.”
How do I build one?
Building a sensory stimulation room is easy to do at home with the right materials. It’s up to you to decide what to incorporate into your loved one’s new room at home based on his/her interests and personal preferences.
Some ideas for what to use:
-An automatic air freshener: Ask your loved one to help pick out a scent that appeals to them, and then set up the air freshener in a part of the room where it is out of sight. Before long, the whole room will be filled with an aroma that will soothe your loved one as soon as he/she steps in the door.
(Tip: If your loved one does not have a preference, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint have all been used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and anxiety and even reduce pain.)
-A nature sound clock for audio stimulation: Different versions of this product can be found at BestBuy, Sears, or online at sites like Amazon. They have built in speakers and often feature Bluetooth capabilities that let you stream music from your favorite devices. Some versions even have built-in nature sounds and effects that will stimulate your loved one’s senses and immerse them in a gentle, welcoming environment.
-Fiber optics for visual stimulation: One of the key components of any sensory stimulation room are fiber optics for visual stimulation. They add a beautiful sparkle effect to the room that will delight your loved one as they watch the colors change before their eyes. You can find a variety of products on sites like DHGate. For less expensive options, you can try incorporating lava lamps or disco balls into the room for a comparable visual effect.
-A rocking chair or hanging chair: This addition is wonderful for people who would like to spend extended amounts of time in their stimulation room. Either a rocking or hanging chair will provide that gentle movement that can soothe a troubled mind and help your loved one feel more at peace. They can be found for as little as $20 on sites like Walmart and eBay.
Feel free to get creative with your sensory stimulation room! Hook up a projector so your loved one can view memorable moments from his or her past. Line the walls with soft cushions or plush toys for your loved one to interact with. Spend some time in the room with them, pointing out the different features and helping them become accustomed to and comfortable in the new space. Before long, this could be a favorite place for both of you to go for a bit of respite.
Jacqueline Hatch is a writer, editor, and publisher at Seniorly.com, a company that provides support for caregivers and their loved ones. Her goal is to provide content that can help families going through a difficult transition period in their lives. She hopes to make a difference through