A great idea to help a client with dementia is a rummage, memory or sensory box. These are containers filled with everyday objects to assist people with dementia to interact, communicate and reminisce. They can also help to be a soothing form of distraction. The containers can be filled with just about anything; fabrics, rice, buttons, marbles, seeds, bouncy balls, shells, thimbles etc. You can personalise them to the client as well theming the box around something that they enjoyed previously for example a box themed around the beach or sewing. The benefits of these boxes include; improved moods, more alertness, increased brain function and improved communication.
Active Tactile Stimulation
The list of things we can use to provide tactile stimulation for people with Alzheimer’s is almost endless. Any “thing,” any object in our world can be touched, within limits. On a walk in the woods, we find the bark is different on each tree. Some, like the Shag-bark Hickory is very rough; the bark of the Sycamore, on the other hand, is much smoother. All trees have a definite and noticeable texture. (They have visual texture, aswell.) Texture is not the only property that provides tactile stimulation. Temperature is also differentiated using the sense of touch. Wet or dry is a tactile dichotomy. Sticky is a tactile discrimination.
Activity Ideas for Tactile Stimulation for Alzheimer’s Patients
Virtual Environments – Most of us cannot take our friend with Alzheimer’swalking in the forest. Even ifwe can sometimes, to do it as a daily or even aweekly therapy is usually not feasible. Butwe can bring part of the forest to our friend.Apiece of bark has the same tactile characteristics whether it’s on the tree or not. A piece ofmoss growing in a pot cannot bewalked on, but we can still appreciate its softness. In the spring and summer leaves are green and soft and supple. Later they become more brittle and will eventually crumble in our hand. Collect leaves and pine cones and twigs and acorns. Anything you find in the forest, even if the forest is really only a city park, can be used to bring the feel of nature indoors. It is also easy to create a virtual beach or seashore. Pour an inch or two of sand in the bottomof a shallowbox. On top of that put seashells and stones, dried starfish,somedried kelp or seaweed, or anything else you might find at the beach. Then allow your patient to explore with her hands. To complete the illusion, play an appropriate video or audio soundtrack in the background. So she can hear or seewaves crashing, gulls being noisy…
Balls come in a great variety of textures and sizes. Many are squeezable. Others light up or make noise when bounced, stimulating other senses, aswell. Beware of balls (or anything) that light or flashes too brightly or too quickly. A collection of balls can provide a stimulating exploration. Or if you are inclined, make a collection of beanbags with different fabric coverings; e.g., satin, corduroy, fake fur, denim, etc. Start a collection of objects that can provide tactile stimulation. Objects for such a collection can be found almost anywhere, but know the person for whom you’re collecting. Some people in later stages of AD put things in their mouths, as children. Watch them, or keep smaller, bite-sized objects out of your collection.