Sensory Stimulation for Dementia Patients


The aim of Levon’s studentship project was to create a set of sensory objects and activities for stimulation, specifically for dementia patients.

The broad brief set for Levon was to design a sensory product or activity with the purpose of stimulating old people with dementia. The problem found was that dementia patients have trouble communicating through reasoning and language; however the senses are often the most effective way to stimulate a patient and help them understand things in the later stages of dementia. Using sensory products helps to take the patients attention when they are stressed or agitated. It’s important that the activities they are given are simple in nature and give them purpose so that their mind can be stimulated. Objects they can cherish or actives that make them feel useful are supremely effective for their wellbeing. Levon also had the opportunity to sit down with a sensory therapy expert with gave him some major takeaways regarding how senses can be applied in stimulating yet calming ways. Firstly, deep touch and texture. Secondly, sounds and applying this to the feedback of an action. And finally, deep breathing and repetition.

The end outcome is a set of calming sensory products designed specifically for old people with dementia. These products stimulate the user and encourage calming interaction. The function of each object is dependent on the interpretation of the user, but is suggestive enough and easy to understand so that all their senses should be engaged. Working with a sensory expert Levon identified effective actions for relieving anxiety and tension, at a suitable level of complexity. The first product, the endless ripple, is a mortar and pestle inspired product where the user runs a dial through circular tracks to create a repetitive patterned sound. Second is a pluck block which encourages deep touch and allows the user make sound. Thirdly, the windy pebble helps regulate the users breathing by blowing through the end of the pebble and feeling the wind shot back at you. Fourthly, the shake bean uses deep touch with a shape that fits snuggly in the hand. The weighted marble inside suggests a shaking motion to promote sound and motion. And finally, the cherish pebbles are a set of ceramic pebbles used for the activity of stacking, all with their own unique feel. The contrasting glossy and rough textures encourage deep touch and wear down over time and the user holds and cherishes. All these products target sensory stimulation in different ways, in one cohesive toolkit.

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