How Sensory Stimulation Helps Alzheimer’s Patients 

A common experience by people living with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is the inability to initiate a task. Often, a person living with memory loss needs cues or direction to stimulate conversation or motivate them towards an activity. This lack of self-direction should not be mistaken for a lack of interest in engagement.

For many, senses become degraded across the progression of dementia. However, well into the disease most people still enjoy the stimulation of these senses. Touching a flower petal, hearing a much-loved poem, tasting favored foods, smelling fresh baked cookies all provoke joy, despite dementia.

Stimulation of the senses also invokes memories in a very powerful way, understanding this fact can help loved ones create meaningful connections intentionally.  Stan, who loved vintage cars was encouraged to help his son wash the family car. This experience sparked detailed accounts about his previously owned vintage car collection, memories his son thought lost at Stan’s stage of dementia.

Stan is not alone. Anne, a long-retired professional dancer, can recall many details about her career when she encounters familiar music. Many examples of hidden memories invoked by sensory stimulation exist. The link between memory and sensory stimulation has been well embraced since the 1960’s and validated by researchers and dementia professional today. To read more about the benefits of sensory stimulation for people with dementia click HERE.

The power of sensory stimulation can ignite connection, in meaningful ways, given the investment of time and attention. We invite you to visit our Dementia Activities board on Pinterest for many examples of sensory activities that can create stimulating engagement with your loved one.


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