The Impact of Sensory Bins on Older Adults With Memory-related Diseases (2024)

When you’re looking to create a memory care plan for a loved one, you might consider things like brain supplements and what foods they should eat. And while those are important factors, you can’t forget about fun and playtime.

Sensory bins are an easy way to provide your loved one with a playful and calming activity — and the benefits don’t stop there. Sensory bins can help families reminisce and help those with memory-related diseases recall special times in their lives. Let’s explore the impact sensory bins can have on older adults dealing with memory-related diseases.

What Are Sensory Bins?

Sometimes called memory or rummage boxes, sensory bins are containers filled with items designed to stimulate the senses and calm the nerves. You can use any washable container you have on hand to craft your own DIY sensory bin. Plastic containers with lids are a common choice because they are easy to store and clean. The size of your container is up to you; just make sure to plan ahead so you know the items you want to include will fit. Sensory bins are an ideal tool for just about anyone, but the benefits for older adults with memory-related diseases are undeniable.

What To Put In Your Sensory Bin

The great thing about sensory bins is that they are highly customizable, so you can put just about anything you want in them. Most sensory bins consist of filler material that acts as a base. The filler can be dry like sand or rice, or wet like dish soap or water. When it comes to older adults experiencing memory-related diseases, it’s wise to fill the bins with everyday items that encourage reminiscing. For example, if hiking in the woods was a hobby for someone, they might have things like dirt and tree bark in their sensory bin. Here are some other items you might consider adding to a sensory bin:

  • Old photos
  • Screws and tools
  • Sewing or knitting materials
  • Shells or beach items
  • Favorite treats
  • Perfume
  • Souvenirs
  • Rubber bands

Are Sensory Bins Just for Kids?

Not at all. Sensory bins indeed have many benefits for children going through their developmental phase. However, the bins are ideal for anyone over the age of three. Whether you’re dealing with memory-related issues or not, sensory bins serve as a soothing activity that could calm stress and anxiety.

Sensory Bins and Memory-related Diseases

Sensory bins stimulate multiple senses at once, making them an enjoyable experience for people of any age. One of the main reasons older people try sensory bins is to encourage memory recall. Depending on the items you choose, interacting with a sensory bin can:

  • Stir up childhood memories
  • Encourage conversation and reminiscing with loved ones
  • Act as a soothing distraction during a high-stress time
  • Increase brain function and alertness
  • Improve communication
  • Act as a mood booster

Sensory Bin Tips

You don’t need to stick to just one sensory bin. You can create several bins, each designed with different intentions. For example, if your loved one is dealing with a high-stress situation, you might not want to pull out the sensory bin that strongly encourages memory recall. Instead, have a bin on-hand designed solely to calm the nerves. A bin with mostly sand that you can run your fingers through might be more beneficial in this scenario.

You can have bins that simulate different experiences too. For example, one bin can have a hiking theme while another can have a beach theme. If you’re unsure where to begin, here are a few sensory bin ideas to keep in mind:

  • For bins filled with items like rice or beans, include cups and scoops to interact with those materials in different ways.
  • For bins with wet fillers, be sure to have towels and cleaning supplies on hand.
  • Be conscious of small items and choking hazards. If necessary, always provide supervision to avoid potential accidents.
  • Include a variety of textures and materials.

At Autumn View Gardens assisted living community, we are proud to provide a beautiful home-like setting in Ellisville, MO. Here, we prioritize care and activities that benefit our residents' well-being. This is precisely why we have a variety of enriching activities and outings available. Sometimes residents and their families want to organize their own activities — that’s where sensory bins come in. You now know the benefits these bins can have for older adults experiencing memory-related issues. Even constructing the bins can be a beneficial bonding experience between loved ones.

Sensory bins are an easy and cost-effective tool to have in your memory-care tool belt. Whether you fill them with memories and mementos or simply want a zen-garden type bin for stress relief, the benefits of these bins are bountiful. To learn more about memory care and the assisted living community at Autumn View Gardens, call us today at (636) 458-5225.

Posted on

Tuesday, May 31, 2022


Bethesda Senior Living Community

The Impact of Sensory Bins on Older Adults With Memory-related Diseases (2024)


The Impact of Sensory Bins on Older Adults With Memory-related Diseases? ›

Studies have shown that when done on a regular basis, sensory stimulation can be very helpful in treating memory issues. By offering different ways to communicate and engaging all five senses, seniors can see some improvement in daily functioning and cognitive symptoms.

Why is sensory stimulation important for the elderly? ›

Sensory stimulation encourages neuroplasticity, which helps the brain compensate for declining senses as we age. Sensory stimulation particularly benefits those experiencing dementia and cognitive decline.

How can sensory bins facilitate body awareness? ›

Sensory bin play activities allow children to know how different body parts like limbs, eyes, and ears relate. They also need self-regulation skills to control emotions and maintain a steady balance. For example, sensory play activities are calming and excellent for regulating a child's emotions.

Why are sensory activities important for dementia patients? ›

Sensory activities are important for people with dementia because they can help stimulate the brain, reduce anxiety, and enhance their quality of life. Sensory activities can also help individuals with dementia to connect with their environment and the people around them.

What are the sensory systems most obviously affected by aging? ›

They include sensory losses in the areas of vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch. However, individuals who are prepared and informed can cope successfully with these life changes. Changing your lifestyle can help reduce the potential for sensory losses that commonly affect the aging.

What are the benefits of a sensory bin? ›

Sensory bins can boost your child's motor skills. Additionally, adding toy tools such as shovels, spoons, and tweezers can help develop coordination as well. Actions like scooping, digging, and pouring toys and materials will all help improve motor skills. Sensory bins can be a great tool to help your child learn!

How does sensory play enhance memory? ›

Young children use all their senses to explore objects and they file it away in their memories. Also, when children have sensory experiences, they store their whole body experiences in their “sensory memory.” We use our sensory memory to begin the process of understanding and gaining knowledge.

What is sensory play for adults? ›

Sensory activities for adults are activities that engage any of the five senses. For example, this could be as simple as using sight to read a book or look at colourful photographs, or even using the sense of smell when someone is cooking.

What is sensory stimulation for the elderly? ›

Finding ways to relate can be powerful for you and the person experiencing cognitive decline. One method that can help make the link is sensory stimulation therapy, which is the practice of using everyday sounds, foods, objects and other items to awaken the senses and elicit a positive response or feeling.

What are the benefits of sensory stimulation? ›

The Top Five Benefits of Sensory Stimulation:

Increased levels of concentration and the ability focus. The opportunity to recall past experiences and happy memories. Improved mood, self-esteem, and overall well-being. More participation in social activities and interactions with friends and family.

What is the purpose of sensory stimulation? ›

By using certain objects, sensory stimulation can help seniors who are struggling to communicate and relate to the world around them ask questions, respond to verbal clues, or remain calm in a stressful situation. Other benefits of sensory stimulation include: Improving cognitive symptoms and maintaining daily function.

What is sensory stimulation in aged care? ›

Sensory stimulation could be something as simple as taking your loved one out for a walk. The sights, sounds and smells of the local area, the grass under their feet, and any social interactions they might have, can make a welcome change from their usual routine.


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