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sensory intervention, nature therapy, multisensory room, aromatherapy, touch therapy, multisensory therapy, light therapy, music therapy


This scoping review focused on the existing scholarly literature exploring sensory interventions and immersive environments developed for, and used by, older adults living with dementia. The purpose of the scoping review is 1) to understand the various sensory interventions that have been developed, used, and have provided data to show how such interventions are expected to impact the lives of individuals living with dementia; and 2) to understand how the field is moving forward. We chose to map the literature to understand the types of interventions, the types of outcomes measured, and the contexts of their implementation. Our search was constrained to references from 1990 to 1 June 2019 in the following databases: Academic Search Complete, CINAHL Complete, MEDLINE, PsycINFO databases, and Summon Search discovery layer. We screened 2305 articles based on their titles and abstracts, and 465 were sent to full text review, of which 170 were included in our full text extraction. Once the data were extracted, we created emic categories, which emerged from the data, for data that were amenable to categorization (e.g., study setting, intervention type, and outcome type). We developed ten different categories of interventions: art, aromatics, light, multi-component interventions, multisensory rooms, multisensory, music, nature, touch, and taste. Sensory interventions are a standard psychosocial approach to managing the personal expressions commonly experienced by people living with dementia. Our findings can help providers, caregivers, and researchers better design interventions for those living with dementia, to help them selectively choose interventions for particular outcomes and settings. Two areas emerging in the field are nature interventions (replacing traditional "multisensory rooms" with natural environments that are inherently multisensory and engaging) and multi-component interventions (where cognitive training programs are enhanced by adding sensory components).


Sheridan Research

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Hayden, L., Passarelli, C., Shepley, S. E., & Tigno, W. (2022). A scoping review: Sensory interventions for older adults living with dementia. Dementia, 21(4), 1416-1448.


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