AN EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF SENSORY STIMULATION WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE DEMENTIA
Hospitalized older adults with dementia often have few opportunities for social interaction and psychological stimulation. Their psychological functioning is affected by the dementing illness, sensory impairment and the effects of living in an institutional environment. The adverse effects of sensory deprivation may be particularly relevant for this client group. Using a multiple single case design, we evaluated the effects of individual sensory stimulation sessions on four elderly patients with dementia. All were living on a hospital continuing care psychiatric ward. Detailed behavioural observations were made before, during and after sessions to assess patients’ responses. Adaptive functioning and wellbeing were also investigated. Results indicated that the intervention led to observable changes in levels of interaction, active looking and interest. The effects were transitory with the exception of active looking, which endured following the session. Adaptive behaviours also improved, though there was no change in wellbeing. The study indicates that sensory stimulation is a valuable therapeutic intervention with this client group.
Key Words: Sensory; stimulation; Snoezelen; dementia; elderly.
1 Reprint requests to Deborah Spaull, Psychology Department, Cedar House, Blackberry Hill Hospital, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 2EW, U.K.