New Jersey’s Best Sensory Stimulation Program for Behavioral Alzheimer’s and Dementia Patients
Galina Markovich and Millennium Memory Care are pleased to offer residents their unique and highly effective Sensory Stimulation Program, an innovative memory care program focuses on sensory activities for dementia patients and people with Alzheimer’s disease. This exciting new program turns daily activities into memorable and meaningful events through the use and stimulation of six areas of sense perception.
Our Sensory stimulation program for Alzheimer’s patients and people with other forms of dementia has been shown to decrease agitation, reduce restlessness and even improve sleep. We believe a resident’s well-being is directly related to how they feel and interact with the world around them, and so the purpose of this program is to make our residents feel accepted, important, comfortable…at home.
At MMC, we always provide opportunities for our residents to be fully engaged in their lives and feel connected to those around them. But this program goes even further. The MMC Six Senses Program helps residents orient to their world through the senses of touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing and movement. We identify the degree to which each individual resident responds to each sense, then incorporate appropriate levels of stimulation into their loved ones’s everyday activities. We understand each resident’s level of functioning and preferences so we can create an individualized plan of sensory activity. Our program is sensory, cognitive and reminiscent, as well as enjoyable.
Residents at Millennium Memory Care are engaged with a sensory stimulation program that meets their individual needs. This programming is designed for the “success” of the resident, and provides smooth transitions from one program to the next based on their needs.
Sensory Stimulation Program Activities
A brief description of the MMC Six Senses Program, along with some our sensory therapies and sensory stimulation activities, is provided here.
Olfactory Cues (Cognitive)
Some of our residents’ strongest memories and associations are triggered by odor. A smell they associate with an event or moment in the past will often transport them to that moment. But aromas can do much more than just stir memories. Anything with the power to channel reminiscences should be part of the daily life of a person with dementia. For example, sensory cues, especially those involving smell, can let the person know it is time to eat, helping increase appetite for people with dementia.
Aroma Therapies and Exercises:
- Use of familiar and pleasant scents
- Explore personal favorites like vanilla, pine, florals
- Talk about memories that a particular smell elicits
- Citrus essential oils and spray (energizing)
- Lavender essential oil and spray (calming)
- Cinnamon, old spice, basil, coffee (appetite stimulating)
- Rosemary, baby oil, flowers (calming )
Visual Cues (Cognitive)
Vision is a most important sense and the one through which our residents gain most of their information. Visual therapies offer the broadest range of possibilities for positive stimulation.
Visual Therapies and Exercises:
- View picture books or photos
- Collect colorful autumn leaves together
- Look through old photographs, newspapers or magazines
- Watch old classic Hollywood films
- Paint a still life with watercolors
- Clip coupons
- Dye Easter eggs
- Play games such as Bingo
Auditory Cues (Cognitive)
Auditory stimulation for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia is very effective for mood enhancement, relaxation and cognition. The physical activity and stimulation of listening to and following a rhythm both add to the benefits of the passive auditory stimulation and has also been shown to improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients.
Auditory Therapies and Exercises:
- Listen to music and sounds of nature
- Listen to familiar songs with pleasant memories
- Sing beloved Christmas carols, hymns, or favorite songs together
- Listen to music that means something to a loved one
- Play trivia games
- Play piano or other instruments together
- Share familiar stories such as Bible or Torah stories
- Watch concerts on video
- Discussion of current events and news
- Play “Name That Tune”
- Read books aloud
Taste Cues & Oral Stimulation
Taste is one of the most important human senses. It allows individuals to recognize consumables that are encountered on a regular basis, such as a favorite steak or favorite wine. However, the sense of taste deteriorates in people with dementia, and some foods no longer taste good enough to satisfy their appetites. An Alzheimer’s or dementia patient often resorts to unhealthy eating habits, but an elderly resident still need a specific amount of nutrients in order to maintain a healthy life style.
Taste Therapies and Exercises:
- Tea party with different flavors of tea
- Tasting familiar treats like ice cream, shakes, yogurt, bananas, applesauce, peanut butter and jelly
- Chocolate tasting
- Prepare a fruit salad together and steal bites
- String cranberries, popcorn or cereal for an outdoor tree
- Hydration sensations
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients benefit greatly from tactile stimulation as their brains encounter increasing difficulty understanding input from the outer world. Anything touched and anything that touches us can be stimulating. Every solid object has texture, temperature, shape. Balls in a collection can be smooth or rough, hard or soft, furry or coarse. The list of things we can use to provide tactile stimulation for people with Alzheimer’s is almost endless.
Tactile Therapies and Exercises:
- Hands massage
- Arts and crafts
- Play dough
- Pet therapy
- Potting plants
- Cooking club
- Jewelry making
- Crochet club
- Tactile stimulation games
- Squishy balls
- Baseball mitt
- Stuffed animals
- Baby dolls
- Bubbles, balloons and inflatable beach balls
Physical and Movement Cues
Leading a physically active lifestyle can have a significant impact on well-being. Exercise is beneficial for physical and mental health and can improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia.
Physical Therapies and Exercises:
- Outside activity/walk
- Morning stretch
- Enhance balance
- Promote relaxation
- Maintain cardiovascular health
- Feed the birds together
- Hang up clothes
- Rock baby dolls
- Turn on music and dance
- Ride a tandem bicycle
- Play horseshoes
- Water plants
- Chair Yoga
- Ball toss
- Household work