Dementia and Noise Sensitivity
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Dementia and Noise Sensitivity

Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia requires a full understanding of their symptoms and the challenges they face as a result. One of the lesser-known aspects of dementia is the heightened sensitivity to noise that many people with this condition may experience.

At Town Square Perry Hall, our adult day care center specializes in finding innovative ways to help those living with dementia lead meaningful and enriched lives. With an environment based on a nostalgic American small town from the middle of the 20th century, our program is founded on the latest dementia research and the principles of reminiscence therapy. We create a supportive experience for all of our members, mindful of everyone’s needs for enrichment, engagement, and sensory comfort. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our center or learn more about noise sensitivity as a symptom of dementia below.

Understanding Noise Sensitivity in Dementia

Our ability to make sense of sound helps us navigate the world. The brain changes associated with dementia can amplify and distort the perception of sound, making everyday noises seem louder and sometimes distressing.

Even when a person in good cognitive health and a person with dementia are exposed to objectively the same sounds, they may process the information of the sounds differently. People with cognitive conditions have physically healthy ears, but changes to the areas of the brain responsible for auditory processing can cause low-intensity sounds to seem louder than they are. This heightened sensitivity can lead to increased agitation, confusion, and stress, contributing to the overall disorientation that your loved one may already be experiencing.

What Triggers Noise Sensitivity Due to Dementia?

Public environments, such as a restaurant or a shopping center, can sound as loud as a sports arena or airport tarmac to a person with dementia. The minor rattling caused by the movement of a shopping cart may be perceived as loudly as a truck passing, for example. Normal noises like glasses clinking and the clatter of silverware can be amplified, making it difficult to enjoy a meal. People in good cognitive health can have one-on-one conversations at a cocktail party because they can focus on a single speaker in a noisy environment, but a person with dementia can have difficulty tuning out other conversations – which studies suggest can be an early warning sign.

The everyday background noise of domestic life, such as a TV turned on at low volume, can be irritating and stressful to someone with dementia. Acoustics in the bathroom can be especially challenging – people without dementia can perceive that the sounds of flowing water echo loudly, an effect that may be all the greater to people with dementia. Anywhere in the house, just closing a door can sound like a loud slam. Any disruption to your loved one’s familiar routine can also trigger increased sensitivity to noise.

Strategies for Managing Noise Sensitivity in Dementia Care

Simple adjustments, such as minimizing background noise and reassuring your loved one during noisy situations, can contribute to a calmer atmosphere. Adding rugs and sound-dampening materials to a bathroom can reduce disorientation. Establishing consistent routines and making sure the environment is soothing and familiar further aid in reducing stress. Creating a peaceful ambiance during mealtimes will make eating more pleasant for everyone at the table.

How Does Managing Noise Sensitivity Improve Dementia Care?

Noise sensitivity can make it challenging for people with dementia to express themselves or understand others, causing frustration. Excessive noise also leads to cognitive overload. Creating a quieter environment and minimizing disruptive sounds gives your loved one a sense of calm and comfort, allowing them to focus better. It may even result in improved memory recall and attention span.

Town Square Adult Care: Addressing Noise Sensitivity in Dementia Care

At Town Square, we have created an environment where seniors with dementia can relax and have fun, surrounded by their peers. Our caring and well-trained staff understands the impact of noise on people with dementia and how important it is for them to have a familiar environment with sounds that evoke fond memories.

Town Square’s innovative approach uses pictures, videos, objects, and immersive activity areas called storefronts to stimulate social bonds, mental engagement, and connection to the past. When our members enjoy a meal at Rosie’s Diner or watch Hollywood classics at the Starlite Theater, for example, they have a chance to make new friends while exploring core memories from their formative years, all in safe surroundings and in the care of skilled dementia-trained professionals. Get in touch with our team now to learn more about what Town Square Perry Hall has to offer.