Why Are Sensory Rooms Helpful for Dementia. How Do You Design One?

Written by Active Minds on Monday the 21st of January 2019.


A person living with dementia can often become upset, agitated, and feel isolated if they start to lose understanding of the world around them. It is important that your loved one is provided with a variety of activities to help maintain cognitive ability and improve their mood.

There has been a lot of research in to the ways in which we can improve the quality of life for someone living with dementia, and as our understanding increases we’re finding that sensory stimulation can make a real difference. A brilliant way to explore sensory stimulation with your loved one is by creating a sensory room.

What Is a Sensory Room

Sensory rooms offer an opportunity for activities free from cognitive demands. It is not always safe or possible for those with dementia to take part in the hobbies they used to enjoy, but creating activities that can spark memories of what they used to love is so important. For instance if your loved one used to enjoy gardening, why not decorate a sensory room with plants which will stimulate the senses as these can be touched, smelt and the colours provide visual stimuli. Organising plant bulbs in to categories, touching the soil and smelling flowers, can all help evoke memories of a hobby they used to love.

There are plenty of ways to create your very own sensory room, and if this is for just one individual try to design it with them in mind with activities you know they will enjoy. Remember to try and stimulate all of the senses in a meaningful way to help evoke memories and assist with relaxation. Make sure the activities are age appropriate and are not too overwhelming as this can lead to agitation.


Decorating Your Sensory Room

Whilst creating your sensory room, consider including soft furnishings and blankets for comfort and security. Choose soft and indirect lighting so as not to create a harsh over stimulating environment and most importantly make sure the room is usable. Activities should be at a suitable height and be easy to understand.

Creating a room in line with your loved ones hobbies, such as nature or baking, can be achieved by introducing different furniture, spraying scents, or playing sounds within the room. Although you will be creating a new environment, try keep the room as in line with the rest of the house or building as possible, as a big shift in environment can be confusing.

Different textiles, scents, sights, sounds and perhaps even things to taste should be provided in a subtle and personal way to ensure you get the best for your loved one from the sensory room. Providing sensory stimulation is an excellent way to spark memories in your loved one, and help aid relaxation and you may see improvements in mood.