Sunshine Retirement Living is installing sensory spas at each of its 23 memory care communities. The spas will provide sensory stimulation with mood-boosting benefits that can reduce behavioral challenges stemming from memory-related diseases.
Sunshine's Sensory Spas provide a variety of sensory stimuli to engage all five senses and improve cognitive, behavioral and communication issues. Services include soothing sound machines to calm anxiety, mood-enhancing variable lighting, and virtual reality headsets with special software that offers a variety of virtual experiences that can help uncover memories and improve socialization.
The treatment space also includes rocking chairs to encourage movement, aromatherapy and essential oils, large and pleasing wall murals and multi-tactile materials and objects such as soft, heated and weighted blankets. Large wall monitors and TVs show various scenes to calm and promote memories, such as travel or meditation videos.
According to the company, people with memory-related diseases such as Alzheimer's or dementia have unique needs based on the progression of the disease. The living facility intends to prevent feelings of boredom and isolation that can lead to depression, frustration, anxiety and increased use of medications.
In a 60-day pilot program for the sensory spas at Sunshine's Copper Canyon Assisted Living and Memory Care community in Tucson, Arizona, antipsychotic use among residents dropped significantly, including up to 70% of "PRN" medications that are administered on an as-needed basis, according to the company.
Luis Serrano, CEO, Sunshine Retirement Living, said, "Recent medical research has found that sensory stimulation in Sensory Spa settings can decrease non-pharmacological interventions and help manage responsive behaviors among residents with dementia and Alzheimer's. With all this encouraging data, our company immediately tested a Sensory Spa program at one of our memory care communities and the positive outcomes were much more than we anticipated. With those results, we immediately began to install Sensory Spas at each of our memory care communities and today I'm delighted to report that we've completed the effort."
Mindy Podraza, director of clinical services, Sunshine Retirement Living, said, "As dementia progresses, it can be very confusing and stressful for the person living with it. Sunshine Retirement Living's Sensory Spas provide a quiet environment where our residents can focus on pleasant sensory sensations that can help refocus that energy and decrease challenging behaviors. The spas also promote better communication between our residents and caregivers, and many times, our residents' families will join them, which can also help with those connections."