As more and more studies begin to surface around sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, and how skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care facilities need to improve their programs, many facilities are doing just that – focusing on sense-sensitive facilities.  Addressing these specific needs of patients and residents will allow them to live a better quality of life, full of dignity, joy and some much-needed independence.

Here are a few things you might consider implementing into your facility to help become more sense-sensitive:

  • See – vision is often a problem for many patients and residents. In addition to making sure they have the needed care for their sight (such as glasses), you can also implement red night lights, which can help them navigate their room and hallways.  Also making sure that signs are clear and easy to read, and contrasting colors has shown to provide reduction in glare and soothing effects.
  • Hear – since most elderly will lose some of their hearing capability, it is important to make sure you address this sense. You can make patient and residents more comfortable by playing soothing and relaxing music, or nature sounds.  Not only does this provide auditory stimulation, but it helps with their mood and relaxation.
  • Taste – as we age our sense of taste will also change, therefore, it is important to understand the decrease in this sense. Ways that you can help your patients and residents is by adding texture to their meal choices, increase their meal choices, and even allow them to participate in preparing a meal.  Smells from the kitchen are another great way to wake up the senses.
  • Smell – since we know smells from the kitchen help with engaging senses, it is also a great idea to allow sensory gardens or even candles. Many smells will help promote nostalgic memories!  On the flip side, it is important to remember to keep the bad smells in check as well – make sure laundry, garbage, and other unpleasant smells are as far away as possible.
  • Touch – this sense can often be difficult to provide, however, providing areas where patients and residents are allowed to participate in activities such as painting, dancing, and playing cards is a great start.

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