The senses-seeing, smelling, hearing, feeling, and tasting-are the most familiar and basic way people interact with the world. From our earliest days the world is explored and understood with input from the senses. We experience pleasure and satisfaction from stimulating our senses throughout childhood and adult life, which does not cease with the onset of dementia. Yet sensory impairment, as a consequence of illness, disease and ageing, can reduce people's ability to interact with the world through sensory input. People with dementia have particular problems that cause them to misinterpret aspects of the environment. For example, reflections on polished floors can make the surface look like water, shadows may appear as objects and objects as shadows. This can lead to individuals becoming anxious and experiencing decreased opportunities for enjoyment in their daily lives. There is much that care staff can do to optimize the sensory environment for the person living with dementia. The purpose of this article is to explore why attention should be given to the environment and what people with dementia need from their environment. Importantly, the role that care staff can play in enhancing the sensory environment, thereby providing a holistic approach, to care is explored.
|Nursing and Residential Care
|Published - 1 May 2011