A natural part of the aging process can sometimes mean that we can experience memory loss.
If yourself, or a loved one, begins to experience signs of sensory changes, there are so many things that you can do to ensure that you remain connected and engaged with those around you.
Memory support can be so much more than just keeping yourself safe – and there are many ways that you can create familiar spaces in the comfort of your own home, which help to stimulate your senses. Here are some top tips to ensure that all five senses provide the opportunity for yourself or loved one to engage, express, soothe and share memories. Sensory stimulation enables you to reconnect by enjoying sights, taste, touch, smells and sounds that you may otherwise miss.
The way you decorate your home, and the visual objects you surround yourself with, can play an important role in stimulating senses when experiencing memory loss.
Choosing familiar objects, family photographs and meaningful decor can arouse your senses and create enjoyable moments which encourage reminiscence. Anything from a favourite photograph to a familiar shelf of books on display can help spark memories and conversation.
When it comes to choosing new designs within your home, it is good to avoid using busy patterns, as they can sometimes create confusion and frustration. Using a plain, subtle or familiar pattern which you are used to, for example a striped table cloth which has always been a staple part of your kitchen, can really help when making changes and adjustments to different decorations around the home. Not only do familiar objects bring comfort, they allow yourself and your loved one to reminisce together.
Taste plays a huge part in reminiscence, and the dining team at Sunrise UK and Gracewell place great emphasis on ensuring that they create residents’ favourite meals as a result of this, from a homely shepherd’s pie to a warm tomato soup – all to reconnect residents with cherished memories and happy moments.
Bright, primary colours can help enhance your appetite, so it is also a good idea to consider items that contrast best with your food, such as yellow or red bowls and dishes. Additionally, cups and bowls that have two handles, rather than one, can be really helpful in improving the ease of use, and can increase confidence when eating.
A simple way to stimulate memory can be through different textures. When making interior design decisions around your home, items of upholstered furniture with touches of lace, faux fur and even denim can help evoke particular life events and memories. Tactile wall art can also encourage touching, as well as being a good starter for conversation.
When it comes to smells, there are a variety of ways of ways to stimulate senses and therefore memory. Familiar and pleasant smells, such as coffee, food and popcorn can serve as a calming, aromatherapy. Smells can also bring back very vivid memories of particular times in our lives.
For those who feel less confident in their independence around the house, flame candles to arouse a sense of smell can be dangerous, particularly as a fire hazard. However, scented electric candles can be a brilliant fix, which mimic the flicker of a natural flame which both reconnects a sense of sight, as well as releasing a nice aroma to stimulate smell senses.
For those experiencing memory loss, or signs of changing sensory ability, this can mean changes to your hearing.
If yourself or a loved one who is experiencing changes to their memory finds comfort in peace and quiet, using soft floor surfaces such as rugs, or choosing carpets rather than hard flooring, if you’re making changes to your home, can really help to absorb extra sounds and keep noise levels down.
Additionally, window treatments that cover the full span of a window can dampen the noise associated with a sound bouncing off the window’s smooth surfaces, such as curtains. To make it easy to adjust sounds accordingly, it is a good to choose a curtain that is easy to open and close.
Finally, a top tip for stimulating a sense of sound is the use of portable TV speakers, which connect through a universal remote. That way, you can feel engaged with what is going on around you, and can join in with others socially, when having some down time watching the television.
There are so many different ways that you can create familiar spaces to stimulate senses and provide support for memory.