Snoezelen Rooms – A New Tool for Alzheimers?

Do you Snoezel? If not, you might need to start!

The word “Snoezelen” comes from 2 Dutch words, “snuffelen” (to seek out or explore, or to sniff) and “doezelen” (to relax, doze, or snooze).  The Snoezelen experience offers sensory stimulation and relaxation through lights, sounds, smells, and textures, and it appears that it can be a beneficial tool in the treatment of individuals with mental health issues.

While not exactly new, Snoezelen is catching on.  The Snoezelen concept was actually developed in the late 1970’s by two Dutch therapists from the De Hartenberg Institute in Holland, a center for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Jan Hulsegge and Ad Verheul set up a sensory environment in a tent at one of their annual summer fairs and generated impressive results with challenged clients, both verbal and nonverbal.

Since that time the Snoezelen concept has evolved into multi-sensory stimulation rooms in many different types of settings.  A Snoezelen Room offers a safe, client-based, pressure-free environment enhanced for interpersonal interactions.

Some common Snoezelen Room settings include:

  • Developmental Disability
  • Children with Special Needs
  • Autism
  • Mental Health
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Stroke & Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Pain Control
  • Dementia, Alzheimers, “Sundowners”

Snoezelen can be used in a variety of ways.  It is used primarily to educate, stimulate, relax, calm, or energize individuals through a multi-sensory or a single sensory experience.  The lighting, atmosphere, sounds, textures, etc. are all adapted specific to the needs of the resident. Whereas we normally think of only 5 senses, Snoezelen targets 7:

  1. Vision
  2. Touch
  3. Smell
  4. Hearing
  5. Taste
  6. Vestibular – Balance, your body’s feedback on gravity, movement, and changing head positions.
  7. Proprioception – Feedback from muscles, joints, and other parts of the body to provide an awareness of positioning.

 Although there are various items that can be incorporated, some common pieces of equipment that might be found in a Snoezelen room might include:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Blacklights, dimmed lighting
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Positioning & seating items, bean bag chairs
  • Bubble tubes
  • Projectors
  • Cushions
  • Fiber optics
  • Water fountains
  • Massage pillows
  • Tactile panels
  • Vibrating music products
  • Interactive panels, switches, buttons
  • Murals
  • Even puddings or candies

FlagHouse  has signed an exclusive distribution agreement for North America for Snoezelen equipment with ROMPA International who own the Snoezelen trademark.

The nursing home industry is increasingly adopting this innovative approach to dealing with behaviors.  Sensory therapy has proven an effective treatment in calming aggressive behaviors and improving mood.  A number of nursing home professionals have come to realize that this type of treatment can be fun while being an effective dementia intervention, even being used for “Sundowners” and various other Alzheimers behaviors.  Would this benefit your facility?

A couple of Snoezelen Room examples can be found below – courtesy of YouTube:

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