Sensory Kit (Work Project)

Well, most of my readers know that I work in long-term care and am supervisor of a mid-stage unit and a late-stage unit for those with dementia. I want to explain an itty bit what dementia is and how it effects our elders before I get into my project.

Dementia is basically a disease which causes "brain failure". Literally, the brain shrinks and holes start to form. Here is an example of a healthy brain:
And this is a brain with Alzheimer's disease - same age, race, sex, etc. 
The hallmark symptom in Alzheimer's disease (and most other dementia) is short-term memory loss. A person's ability to form and store new memories is gone. This disease is progressive, irreversible, and will eventually lead to death. As it progresses a person will eventually lose the ability to walk, speak, or even feed himself. Now, I know this is all sounding very negative, but it is important to understand the disease to see the benefit in what I am going to now explain to you. At the latest stages of dementia a person can still experience moments of peace, joy, and happiness- we just have to figure out how to reach that person. Sensory stimulation (hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, and hearing things) is a really good way and proven method in reaching those in the latest stages (and earlier) of the disease.

This is a sensory box themed for the month of February.
It contains scented lotions (smell and touch w/ hand massages), a feather boa (sight and touch), a CD of old music (hearing), a faux rose (sight, touch), old photos of weddings (sight), a teddy bear and stuffed valentine heart (sight and touch), a book of love quotes and poems (hearing, sight, touch), scented, rose-shaped soaps (sight, smell touch), lip-smackers in strawberry and watermelon (sight, smell, touch, and taste), a light-up bouncy ball (sight, touch), and a flameless scented candle (sight, smell). All of these things can be used to trigger memories and reminiscence. I recently heard a theory that the long-term memories are they, just not accessible by the person, but can be triggered and create a moment of joy.

Lipsmackers, Rose, scented soaps

Old wedding photos, "Crooners" CD, and Love book

Sophie was being very helpful... or trying to eat the teddy bear - whatever she's adorable.

Lotions that smell like flowers (Valentine bouquet?) and strawberry

Teddy bear, feather boa, rose petals, bouncy-light-up ball

All I did was wrap a shoebox in pretty paper and go to the dollar store - I printed the photos off of the internet. This box can be used by my staff for 1:1 visits with residents who are restricted to their rooms or bedridden or it can be used in a small group setting for lower-level residents. I put a list of what is in the box on the underside of the lid. By the end of this year I hope to have one of these boxes for every month of the year.


Melanie said...

Fantastic! This is such a great idea! I hope you get some good reactions out of the residents!

Farmchick said...

Great idea! My Gran suffers from dementia and it is really a heartbreaking disease.

Adrianne Sarah said...

I love the brain images up top- very striking. where did you find them?

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