Sensory stimulation for those who are struggling with dementia can provide soothing for those who are agitated. It can calm them. Engaging in an activity throughout the day has also been shown to help your senior sleep better.
If you care for a senior with dementia it might be hard to believe, especially after a bad day, there may be something — an object, music or activity — that will provide a calming response for seniors who are in distress due to dementia.
Yes, it’s true!
What exactly is that you might say? It is a technique used to stimulate one, a few or many of your senior’s senses.
Types of sensory stimulation used to calm an agitated person:
- aroma therapy
- sand trays
- weighted blankets
- a variety of other tactile and visual objects such as clay and aquariums
- lap activity quilt (fidget quilt) or activity mat
- soft lamp
- water machine to reproduce waves
This list might get you thinking about the items you might already have or could get that would stimulate your senior loved one.
Fidget Quilt or Activity Blanket
Recently I heard someone describe an object that was used with a person with dementia that was unique. They called it a fidget quilt. It is a blanket that has several different objects attached to it that stimulate the senior and keeps them focused on an activity and thereby reduce emotional escalation that leads to agitation. It can relieve their boredom too.
The quilt kept this person busy for quite a while “fidgeting” with all the interesting objects in her lap that don’t fall off. It is similar to a toddler’s activity quilt and you could possibly use one of those too but a more age appropriate version would be more acceptable.
Just what is a fidget quilt? There isn’t one definition, but generally it is a lap sized, colorful blanket or mat that keeps a person’s hands busy while occupying their mind to reduce the potential of agitation. It has also been called a dementia activity mat.
Features you can find on a fidget quilt would be things like different textured fabrics like fake fur, corduroy, suede or lambskin, yarn, ribbons, buttons, zippers, pockets, attached bean bag, buckles, beads, laces, key rings and common household items that can be attached that give different textures and tactile stimulation when touched.
If you would like to make your own there are patterns online and can be found on Pinterest.
Stimulating Activities for Those with Dementia
There are not only quilts but tray tables, cushions, and even hand muffs using the same idea of sewing on things that will stimulate fidgeting hands to take hold and be engaged. You can also engage your senior with music, aromas, sounds of rippling water or mood lighting.
It is important for a person with dementia to stay active mentally and stimulated through activities. It can help them maintain quality of life especially during the later stages of dementia.
Activities such as these sensory stimulating objects will also provide the caregiver with some much needed respite even if it a few minutes at a time. The more they use them, the more time they will spend with the object giving a caregiver a minute to do something simple such as making a phone call or going to the bathroom without as much worry about their senior loved one.
These tactile stimulating objects can be beautiful, traditional, funky and bring back memories depending on whether you buy one or make one yourself. The love and peace they will bring your senior loved one will be priceless!
If you have made one of these objects we would love for you to share a photo with us!