When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, your family may make the decision to look for long-term care. Finding the right provider can be difficult but there’s a program which allows your loved one to stay at home and receive the treatment they need. PACE (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly) serves multiple counties across North Carolina. Approximately half of the seniors enrolled in PACE programs in this state have Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Some can benefit from a drug-free therapy known as the Snoezelen room.
The Snoezelen room (pronounced “Snoozlin”) is a therapy technique designed to relax people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other diseases. Derived from Dutch, Snoezelen means “to doze” and “to sniff.” The room is a controlled environment where those with Alzheimer’s can feel safe and non-threatened. The experience of a Snoezelen room can transport one away from the pressures of everyday stimuli.
There are Snoezelen rooms located in two PACE facilities at Life St. Joseph of the Pines in Fayetteville, NC and Carolina Senior Care in Lexington, NC. Each one is different; however, both are structured environments put together by PACE. They are effective in decreasing Alzheimer’s or dementia participants’ agitation and tendency to wander.
Snoezelen rooms come in a variety of environments with different equipment. Every room is an adventure and can have colorful lights, bubble tubes, and a projector and color wheel, which throws images across the ceiling and walls of the Snoezelen room. The equipment provides visual stimulation and can encourage your loved one to relax while he or she watches the images float by.
Snoezelen rooms can be dialed up or down depending on the progression of your loved one’s disease. If they’re high-functioning, they can handle more stimulation like spinning lights and dramatic sound. But if they are in the later stages of Alzheimer’s it’s best to keep the stimuli limited to things like quiet music and a vibrating pillow.
If you are frustrated because you’ve been unable to communicate with your loved one, Snoezelen room therapy may help. Some participants began speaking in one or two sentences or even engaging in entire conversations after exposure to the Snoezelen room. Snoezelen therapy doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one will recognize you, but it can increase the bond you have with them.
A Snoezelen room won’t stop or reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s. But it can help your family member feel less fearful, less stressed, calmer, and more relaxed. Snoezelen rooms have helped our participants and may help your loved one too. If you want more information about how PACE treats its participants with Alzheimer’s or dementia, contact your local PACE program here.