Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 25th of May 2016.
Sound is one of the richest forms of sensory stimulation and can be a form of mood enhancement and relaxation. Sensory stimulation in general is really effective for people living with dementia, as it allows people to feel a whole spectrum of positive emotions. Selecting suitable audio can be a great way to evoke memories of the past and encourage people who usually have problems with verbal communication to express themselves. As summer approaches, using sounds that we associate with this time of year can be very relaxing for people living with dementia. For people with limited mobility or anxiety issues, bringing the sounds of summer indoors can make them feel more connected with nature and the outside world.
When you ask someone to tell you what sounds they associate with the great outdoors, bird songs, the sea and leaves blowing in the wind will probably be mentioned at some point. These types of noises can act as a pleasant reminder of times spent outside and past locations. Finding sounds that are relevant to someone’s past can be especially evocative, such as the sounds of sea gulls if someone lived on the coast. A specific noise, such as the sound of farmyard animals, can be soothing if someone has happy memories of living in a countryside environment. These are all ways of stimulating reminiscence. A soundtrack of audio snippets can be a very comforting experience and can bring a level of tranquillity and a distraction from anxious thoughts.
Using sounds that conjure up memories and images of the summer can bring pleasure to people living with dementia. Listening to natural sounds can be a good soundtrack for meditation; if someone wants to practice mindfulness then listening to soothing sounds can help to put them in a positive, relaxed frame of mind. This is especially useful if a person living with dementia has trouble sleeping or getting into a relaxed state. Listening to calming, reassuring noises that stimulate reminiscence can put someone at ease and make it easier for them to fall asleep. However, even having summer sounds playing in the background while someone carries out other tasks can be stimulating them cognitively and making a difference to their mind-set.
Sounds of the summer can help someone to build a more meaningful connection to the outside world. If someone with dementia has limited movement then they may not go outside as much as they would like to or they may have issues with anxiety which prevents them from leaving their home. If this is the case then people can feel cut off from the natural world, so using seasonal sounds can help to re-build this connection and bring enjoyment to someone’s life. They can also re-establish a connection with past memories that are related to the noises played, such as a beachside scene or the sounds of a park that remind them of when they were younger.
Check out our range of reminisce activities here.