Sensory stimulation uses everyday objects to connect with one or more of the five senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste and touch) with the aim to evoke positive feelings and increase social interactions and connections using everyday sensory cues and familiar objects e.g. familiar foods, flowers, music.
In the work by Duncan (2015) a Cochrane Collaboration review of snoezelen (a therapy based on providing controlled environments for multisensory stimulation) was completed and the findings are outlined below in relation to snoezelen, multi-sensory stimulation and massage and touch interventions. The other areas of sensory of interventions are not covered in this paper but can be considered in more detail in a follow up paper.
Snoezelen, multi-sensory stimulation, provides sensory stimuli to stimulate the primary senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell, through the use of lighting effects, tactile surfaces, meditative music and the odour of relaxing essential oils (Pinkney 1997). This is a developing evidence base but it was found the use of snoezelen in practice, to reduce or improve behaviours, mood, interactions/communication and caregiving relationships may still be appropriate but requires therapists to conduct meaningful evaluation of its impact.
Massage and touch interventions for people living with dementia have similarly been investigated by the Cochrane Collaboration with two studies providing with some initial findings in supporting massage and touch interventions as effective for people living with dementia. Work by Cohen-Mansfield (2001) noted message and touch are among the range of non-pharmacological and psychosocial interventions that aim to counteract cognitive decline, reduce the frequent accompanying problems of depression, anxiety, and aim to improve general health and wellbeing. The cochrane collaboration, despite some limitations in the research methods, noted some value in using massage and touch to complement other therapies aiming to manage behavioural and emotional symptoms associated with dementia.