When I worked with residents and their families in a residential care setting, a wonderful project that we initiated was setting up a Snoezelen Program to benefit the well-being of our residents.
Snoezelen was a concept defined in the late 1970s by two Dutch therapists, Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheaul.
They discovered through their research and practice that providing stimulation and relaxation through the use of smell, touch, sound, colour, and light helped people suffering from cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities to connect and communicate.
We introduced this concept as a way to support family members and their loved ones to engage together when active verbalization had become limited due to advancing dementia.
Staff also took a cart filled with Snoezelen products offering music, lighting effects and gentle vibrations into a resident’s room to help soothe or interact with them through sound, sight and touch.
I will never forget the first time I took a projector into the room of one of our residents who was in the advanced stage of Alzheimer’s Disease.
As the moving picture was reflected on one wall of her room, she began to intently watch the flickering of lights and colours and did so for well over an hour.
It was such a joy to share an incredible moment of connection with her.
Can creativity and stimulation of our senses help to reconnect us when a pathway in the brain has been lost?
Even if dementia has not rooted itself in our brain, we can disconnect from our own inner world and not know how to get back to feeling, sensing and intuitively trusting that we need to stay engaged with life and joined with others.
Karen Close, one of the key pioneers of creative aging in Canada, is an ardent advocate for the healing power of creativity and connection.
She is the founder of heART Fit, a class that is open to the public every Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Rotary Centre for the Arts here in Kelowna.
Here, ideas about painting and creativity can be shared and the participants learn from each other how to reconnect to themselves through the creative process.
In the fall of 2011, Close created a journal called Sage-ing With Creative Spirit, Grace and Gratitude.
In 2015, Woodlake Books will be releasing the book Creative Aging, featuring articles from the first 12 issues.
This online collection of people’s stories and insights relates how they uniquely evolved through their own journey into aging with spirit and grace and can be read at www.sageing.ca.
The journal is a visual extravaganza for the senses!
I myself have become absorbed in rediscovering where I too have allowed myself to disconnect from my most authentic self and am committed to the journey of aging consciously, which is simply to become more aware of your emotions and passions, your sense of purpose and calling.
Come and explore this topic with me at my next workshop, Soles of Wisdom coming up this Saturday, Oct.25, and share in the journey with me.
Marjorie Horne is the owner of Caresmart Seniors Consulting