Sensory activities can be a great way to engage and stimulate the senses of people living with dementia across all stages. These activities can help improve cognitive function, reduce agitation and anxiety, and provide a sense of enjoyment and purpose.
Here are 7 ideas for sensory activities that can be beneficial for people with dementia:
- Music therapy: Music is such a powerful tool. Music has the ability to evoke strong emotions and memories. Listening to music or participating in singing, dancing, or playing instruments can be a fun and engaging activity that can improve mood and cognitive function.
- Art therapy: Art therapy involves using creative expression through art-making to improve emotional well-being. It can be a great way for people with dementia to express themselves while engaging their senses. Let your imagination run wild with paint, glue, and craft supplies of all kinds.
- Gardening: Gardening can provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose, and it allows people with dementia to engage their senses through touch, sight, and smell. Planting and caring for flowers or herbs can be a familiar, rewarding, and therapeutic activity. Remember, you don't have to go outside to garden. You can bring the garden inside with mini pots, plants, and herbs, making the activity more accessible.
- Nature walks: Taking a walk in nature can provide a sense of peace and enjoyment, and it allows people with dementia to engage their senses through sight, smell, and touch. Even if your person living with dementia isn't mobile, you can still take them out for a stroll using a wheelchair or transport chair.
- Reminiscence therapy: Reminiscence therapy involves using objects and photographs from the past to prompt memories and discussions. It can be a great way for people with dementia to engage their senses and connect with their past. If you partner doesn't have anything to share, feel free to share a story of your own or point out different things about the object or picture. If your partner recalls a memory and you know it's not completely accurate, don't worry about it. Listen as if you know nothing about the occasion and approach the conversation with an inquisitive mind.
- Cooking and baking: Cooking and baking can be a fun and engaging activity that allows people with dementia to engage their senses, especially through touch, smell, and taste. It can also provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose. Grade the activity to meet your partner's abilities and make something delicious — together.
- Pet therapy: Interacting with pets whether real pets or robotic pets can be a calming and therapeutic activity for people with dementia. Petting an animal or watching them play can provide a sense of enjoyment and can help reduce anxiety and improve mood.
It's important to keep in mind that not all sensory activities will be appropriate for everyone with dementia. It's important to pay attention to the individual's preferences and abilities, and to make adjustments as needed. Sensory activities can be a great way to provide enjoyment, stimulation, and a sense of purpose for people with dementia.