Calming: Tactile blankets, also known as fidget blankets, can be a soothing solution for those with dementia and those who suffer with restlessness. The various ribbons, fabrics and laces help calm the mind by keeping it busy and distracted, providing a resource for fidgeting hands. Repetitive behaviours often occur when someone is anxious, try providing an outlet for this anxiety through fidgeting.
Tactile Wall and Blankets
Stimulating: There are numerous types of tactile walls, providing various visual, auditory and tactile feedback.
To achieve the most tactile stimulation, encourage the individual to explore each part of the board or blanket featuring different textured shapes. Comparing the various elements and textures help stimulate the brain, with the potential of different patterns evoking memories for those with dementia. Walls with auditory features such as bells can be used to stimulate alertness, encourage the user to create the sounds by pressing the buttons, this will help develop sound recognition and the cause and affect skill. The fidget blankets can help alleviate users from boredom by stimulating the senses, the more senses that are stimulated from the blanket the better. Scents can be used to help stimulate memories, whether this is applied to the blanket or using an aromatherapy diffuser.
Developmental: They develop curiosity, discovery, hand eye coordination and interaction. Mirrors on the walls can help visual development and self-awareness. Try using emotion prompt cards and practice what these emotions look like in the mirror, for example asking the user what happy would look like, and so on. The fidget blankets help maintain fine motor skills, encouraging activities that are often activities of daily living including zips, laces and buttons on. This can help develop or maintain the skills such as zipping items of clothing up or tying shoelaces. The walls can also help tactile avoiders control what they touch, encourage them to get used to different textures by grading. Grading simply means increasing or decreasing the difficulty depending on how the user responds, which can also be done with various tasks, more information on this can be found online.
Create you own fidget toy, for yourself or for others that may benefit from one. They are designed to help reduce anxiety for dementia patients who are feeling restless. Here is a pattern to follow: How to make a dementia fidget toy to ease restlessness | Alzheimer's Society (alzheimers.org.uk)
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