Sensory Integration Therapy Used in Memory Care | Paddock Ridge

What Is Sensory Integration Therapy?


The benefits of sensory integration therapy for seniors with dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia don’t just affect the senior living with the disease. They affect entire families. And with a new dementia diagnosis occurring every 65 seconds, more and more families are feeling the impact. While there is no known cure or prevention, there are new and innovative therapies that help older adults living with dementia reconnect with their memories and stay connected to their families. One of those therapies is known as sensory integration therapy.

What is sensory integration therapy? Started in Europe in the 1960s as a way to help people with learning disabilities explore the world in a safe, stimulating environment, sensory integration therapy has become widely used to treat other conditions like:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Brain injuries
  • Chronic pain

That’s because sensory stimulation evokes positive feelings by using everyday objects to connect to the five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch.

Sensory stimulation room

Memory care communities — like Paddock Ridge — have specially designed rooms to provide sensory integration therapy for seniors. These rooms can feature gentle stimulation in a controlled way to help enhance feelings of comfort and well-being while relieving stress and pain. They can also help maximize a senior’s ability to focus and increases their social interaction to improve memory and communication. In the later stages of the disease, sensory stimulation can give seniors a way to express themselves when they can no longer communicate with words, making them feel safe and relaxed. Typical sensory integration therapy for seniors include:

  • Aromatherapy: One study from Tottori University in Japan studied the curative effect of aromatherapy on Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers discovered that “all patients showed significant improvement in personal orientation related to cognitive function.” Plus, no side effects were found, leading researchers to conclude that it could be used as an effective, non pharmacological therapy for dementia.
  • Sensory Lighting: Sensory lighting can be used to stimulate someone with dementia to redirect unwanted behaviors and de-escalate them if they’re feeling stressed. Fiber optic lights work best as they allow the senior to safely interact with the lights.
  • Ambient Sounds: Sounds, especially music, can have a huge impact on the emotions of someone with dementia. Music can help to orient them, calm them, and even encourage memories.
Other sensory stimulation therapy activities

Besides a sensory room, there are other activities that can help someone with dementia connect to everyday life such as:

  • Interacting with uncommon objects like sand or seashells
  • Receiving a hand massage
  • Taking a short walk
  • Being read to
  • Going outdoors

Until there’s a cure, senior care providers will continue to find innovative ways to ensure those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia continue to live lives of purpose and connection. If you’d like to learn more about memory care at Paddock Ridge and our Alzheimer’s treatments, call us at 352-512-9191.