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Understanding the Importance of Sensory Engagement for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s disease is a challenging condition to manage, for you and your loved one. As the body ages, it changes in many ways and can affect how we experience the world around us. One way to help seniors with Alzheimer’s is through sensory engagement. Studies have found that stimulating the senses can help reduce agitation and other behavioral issues associated with Alzheimer’s while also helping individuals maintain their cognitive abilities.

Let’s explore further the senses most affected by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and the types of activities that can best support your loved one.

What senses are most affected by Alzheimer’s?

Sensory experiences play an important role in our daily lives and can evoke strong emotions and memories. Unfortunately, those struggling with memory loss can experience difficulty in recognizing and interpreting sensory inputs from the environment around them. While Alzheimer’s can affect all five of our primary senses — sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell — in various ways, smell is most often affected and can also predict loss of cognitive function.

While sight can become impaired due to decreased vision or difficulty recognizing familiar items, hearing may become more sensitive or distorted compared to before diagnosis. Sense of touch may also be affected due to neurological changes in brain structure, leading to a reduced ability to feel pain or pressure on skin surfaces. Taste and smell can be impacted by nerve damage; many seniors with Alzheimer’s lose their appetite due to issues with taste recognition or aversion caused by smells.

These impacts on sensory perception can leave seniors feeling isolated, confused, or anxious. To combat these negative effects, stimulating the senses through sensory engagement has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety while increasing quality of life.

Ridgeland Place | Senior using smartphone and headphones in garden
Syda Productions –

How does sensory stimulation help seniors living with dementia?

Everyone experiences the five senses differently. For some, they may be heightened, while others may not sense them as acutely. For those living with Alzheimer’s, however, it is important to stimulate each sense in order to keep them engaged in life as much as possible.

Touch is especially important when it comes to sensory engagement for seniors living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Not only does physical touch provide comfort and security but — through massage — it can also help improve mood and reduce pain associated with arthritis or other age-related conditions.

Taste can also be an effective way to stimulate memories. Comforting and familiar flavors can help evoke memories from long ago. Smell has the same effect. Familiar scents such as a loved one’s perfume or favorite flowers can bring back fond memories of days gone by.

Sight is another powerful tool when it comes to engaging seniors’ senses; looking at old photos or simply taking a stroll outside can bring great joy and peace into their lives.

Finally, sound is perhaps the most important sense when it comes to engaging people living with dementia; music has been shown time and time again to have a calming effect on older adults struggling with memory loss.

How Memory Care in Mississippi Can Provide Sensory Engagement

Ridgeland Place’s memory care Connections Program in Mississippi focuses on providing enjoyable sensations for seniors living with dementia — including aromatherapy to decrease agitation and SingFit to elevate mood and improve speech through singing classic songs. Our team understands that physical activity plays an important role in improving overall wellness for dementia patients and provides plenty of opportunities for seniors to move about in a secure environment through walking clubs, boxing, and dancing.

Residents can also participate in brain-stimulating activities like story time or reminiscence therapy. These activities give residents a sense of purpose while also helping them to stay connected to the people around them and their own life stories.


Our Sensations: Memory Care Built Around Stimulating the Senses

If you have a loved one who needs memory care, Mississippi is a great state with research-based memory care available at Ridgeland Place. We would love to chat about all the ways our Connections Program could bring joy into your loved one’s life! Contact us to learn more or schedule a tour.

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