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Using Sights & Sounds to Calm Loved Ones with Dementia

By: MADEUP HOTEL / 01 Jun 2020
Using Sights & Sounds to Calm Loved Ones with Dementia

Within our Sweet Memories neighborhoods, just like any neighborhood, residents have good days and bad days. Part of our job is to celebrate the good days and help residents cope with the bad days. We have several ways we do that. (Learn more about our Memory Care programming here.) One of the wonderful ways we can help calm residents is with our serenity rooms. Below is a story from a caregiver in one of our communities on how she was able to utilize this space.

Carolyn is one of our Sweet Memories residents who is an enormous amount of fun, but she can easily get stressed out, which causes meltdowns. We in activities have learned the Serenity room is a great resource in helping Carolyn relax.

One day, Carolyn was crying and shouting, very upset.  I offered to take Carolyn to the Serenity room. She very willingly agreed and asked me not to leave her, she continued to cry. That's when I got an idea, it's something I'll often do with my kids at home just for fun.

I asked Carolyn if she liked thunderstorms. She replied, "yes". So, I went to my 'calm' app on my phone which offers a variety of relaxing, nature sounds. I played the thunderstorm sounds and asked if she wanted to hear a story.  One of my favorite books is "Thundercake" by Patricia Polacco. I found an audio version with pictures on you tube and played her the story.

So, with thunder and rain in the background, and the sweet story about Thundercake, Carolyn quickly focused in on the sounds and the story, and stopped crying. She began laughing at 'ole peck hen' and the 'ole kick cow'. She laid her head on my shoulder and was completely relaxed and back to her normal laughing, smiling self. It was a great success, and a very sweet moment that I'll treasure.

The Serenity room is our go to for Carolyn when she is having a bad day, it has never failed in calming her down.

We are blessed to have these serenity rooms in most of our communities. They are a quiet space with a sound machine, dim lighting, tactile elements, essential oil diffuser and a screen with nature scenes to help residents recenter with the help of a caregiver or on their own. If you're caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer's disease and would like tips for creating a similar space at home, email us at

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