In simple terms, Snoezelen (“snoozelen”) is a multisensory stimulation approach used to provide opportunities for multi-sensory experiences in the cognitively impaired.
Snoezelen therapy can be used as both a stimulating and calming technique. Frequently, cognitively impaired individuals, particularly those with physical impairments as well, are not able to access normal stimulation in the environment and need “simulated” experiences brought to them.
Textures, smells, unusual lighting, contrasts, nature sounds are all examples of snoezelen stimulation. The purpose can be to provide a specific sensory experience with a direct goal- decrease sensitivity to textures- or a multisensory experience to engage different neural pathways in the brain as a non-directive therapy experience.
In Alzheimer’s patients, especially the middle stage wandering type who seem to have so much on their minds and no way to express themselves, Snoezelen can provide an outlet for anxiety caused by the inability to verbally communicate. A “hands on” experience with the environment can provide an opportunity for the person with Alzheimer’s to “scratch an itch” in the brain. It has been shown to have a calming effect on anxious or agitated Alzheimer’s persons, and a stimulating effect on those who are harder to access through traditional verbal and tactile approaches.
An entire room dedicated to Snoezelen therapy may be hard to come by in most settings, but a box filled with items that provide tactile, visual, or hearing stimulation can be a cost effective investment in multi-sensory therapy.
For more information, contact the International Snoezelen Association.