What is tactile stimulation for dementia sufferers and why is it important? Give patients the gift of touch
Fiddle Hands Muff Activity Pillow Busy Board Plumbers Pal Pipes Comfort Alzheimer’s Therapy Doll Perfect Pet – King Charles
Tactile stimulation is the sensation we experience through touching and feeling different textures. Senses begin to decrease and communication becomes difficult. Individuals with dementia use their hands to sense the world. People need to feel human touch and to connect with others. Dementia sufferers increasingly require tactile stimulation as Alzheimer’s disease progresses through the stages. At the same time, individuals ability to walk declines. Therefore, the hands increasingly compensate for the lacking sensory stimulation. Tactile stimulation for dementia exercises the brain and is necessary to preserve short/long -term memory recall.
Tactile Stimulation for Dementia (Sources)
In late-stage dementia, the main source of tactile stimulation is physical contact.
Holding hands, lotioning skin and performing direct care is stimulation.
Individuals with dementia will touch and explore all the objects near them.
In most cases, this is a blanket, pillow, call light cord, water cup or whatever is available within reach.
Objects within reach should be safe; being unable to cause harm or be swallowed.
Some late-stage dementia sufferers put objects in their mouths.
Dementia Friendly Tactile Items
In this article, I will go over safe, tactile stimulation for dementia devices and possible applications.
Individuals with dementia need an occupation for their busy hands.
Fidget items offer a safe, productive option for occupying their hands.
Generally covered with zippers, buttons, threads, and pockets; tactile activity items offer tasks that individuals can improve upon while fiddling.
Dementia sufferers that have an occupation for their busy hands, have a lower baseline of anxiety.
Tactile sensory boards, tactile toys, dementia activity pillows, fiddle mats, fidget quilts/blankets, fidget aprons, fidget boxes, stuffed pets and dolls are are some examples of tactile stimulation for dementia items.
Alzstore.com is a useful site to find products for tactile stimulation.
Marjorie’s Busy Hands [and Mouth]
I remember a woman (for the sake of this article) named Marjorie. She had late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and was nonverbal.
She had the busiest hands I have ever seen.
Whatever Marjorie could grab she put in her mouth.
To the point that Marjorie would try to bite the caregivers during most points of contact.
Her family visited often, involving themselves in her care.
Naturally, the family and staff had concerns about her biting.
One day her daughter brought in a dementia activity pillow.
A Safe Distraction
Marjorie’s pillow offers five different options: a zipper, belt buckle, pocket, button, and shoelaces.
There a several activity pillow designs which have a similar purpose.
Each area of the pillow offers a distraction for busy hands with movements necessary in life, but forgotten with dementia.
Nursing must approve new items that Marjorie has in her reach.
Marjorie’s pillow was designed with dementia patients in mind, the pillow was carefully constructed with quality materials.
Even with force, the activity pillow and it’s parts held together.
Nursing deemed the pillow safe due to Marjorie and wandering persons not being able to swallow any part of it.
Marjorie put every part of that pillow to the test with her teeth.
It held up without an issue (teeth-proof).
Marjorie’s daughter who brought in the pillow stated she found the idea for it online.
Her daughter found free templates for the activity pillow but didn’t feel she could make a safe, finished product by herself.
Therefore, her daughter purchased the pillow online. A reviewed and tested pillow that she knew wouldn’t fall apart providing her peace of mind.
The activity pillow calmed Marjorie by giving her hands and mouth something to do while giving her something to squeeze.
Two months from receiving the dementia activity pillow, there was a reduction in Marjorie’s psychotropic medications. She had less behavioral outbursts and was calmer in general.
I feel the reduction of medications was due, at least, in part to the activity pillow.
She held the pillow daily and was fond of it.
The positive effect the pillow had on Marjorie, of course, pleased her family members and nursing staff.
It pleased them so that her family brought other tactile stimulation items, prov >stimul .
Based on Marjorie’s positive experience with the activity pillow, the activity department made a tactile sensory board. A tactile sensory board engages people similar to the pillow, but on a larger scale. Tactile toys were eventually utilized by the activity department as well.
Activities department recognized the need for more tactile stimulation for nonambulatory individuals with late-stage Alzheimer’s dementia.
The Only Limitation of Tactile Stimulation Sensory Board Options are Size and Imagination
• Sensory boards are usually stationary and kept in activity departments.
• The boards are quite large, therefore accommodating more than one person to use them at a time.
• Contain many mechanisms that people frequently use through their lives without even thinking about them. Dementia sufferers can retain the ability to operate these mechanisms for longer with regular engagements with the sensory board.
• Supervision of individuals with dementia is required when using the boards due to unavoidable pinch points.
Stimulate with Caution
The sensory board has several attached, but moving parts.
An assortment of locks, hinges, knobs, and switches provide numerous sources of stimulation.
Tactile sensory boards are generally, large and have many options for patients to choose from.
Concepts for tactile sensory board ideas are readily available online at Pinterest.com
Small, Handheld Manipulatory Toys That Improve Dexterity
What are tactile toys for dementia? Toys?
Tactile toys for dementia are not something we should view as demeaning but as tactile stimulation that’s safely beneficial.
Select a toy that is compatible with the person’s current abilities and then eventual decrease in function as the disease progresses.
Keep in mind to choose a toy that’s bigger than the mouth and/or does not have removable parts.
Tactile toys promote feelings of accomplishment while occupying busy hands.
Made for different modes of convenience for the altering abilities of the dementia sufferer.
Fidget items are available in various shapes and sizes.
Choose an item that appropriately fits the status of the individual.
An example being, some people have arthritic, contracted hands, making it difficult to hold toys, pillows, and boxes.
Fidget, Fiddle, Twiddle
The “fidget” items function in the same manner as other tactile stimulation for dementia objects.
Fidget, fiddle, and twiddle muffs cover one of the hands while the other hand is free to caress and manipulate the muff’s tactile sensory objects available.
If the patient is supine more often than prone, choose a busy blanket or activity apron to ensure patient contact with the object.
(Something is Missing) Dolls or Pets Lower Agitation and Anxiety Levels
The presence of, and contact with a doll alleviates the sensation that something is missing from their lives.
Persons with dementia commonly don’t know what the root of that feeling is.
Dementia sufferers children are now adults. Individuals with dementia view themselves as much younger. Therefore, they feel they have babies to care for.
What is tactile stimulation for dementia sufferers and why is it important?
Give patients the gift of touch
Fiddle Hands Muff
Plumbers Pal PipesFamily members were quick to relay their satisfaction after observing their loved one with a tactile toy and it’s ability to deter escalations in behaviors. We shouldn’t view tactile toys for dementia as toys at all, but instead as tactile stimulation tools.
Comfort Alzheimer’s Therapy DollThe removal of that empty feeling, from prov >and anxiety levels. It appears people do not care if the tactile dolls are not real. Some admitted to knowing this, but cared for the dolls just as real babies. The dolls provide a feeling of accomplishment, nurturing, and caring for the patient. Most dementia sufferers had pets in their lives. Stuffed dogs and cats offer similar sensory stimulation as the dolls provide. Many refer to their pets as children. It is common knowledge that pets are therapeutic and bring a calming effect for people in general. Weighted, stuffed animals offer a higher level of realism.
Perfect Pet – King CharlesUse extra care when selecting dolls and/or stuffed pets in that they don’t have removable pieces or parts. Brighten rooms and moods. Related posts- Dementia Lighting and Wall art for Dementia Units.