Snoezelen: Is More Than Putting the Lights On

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Jason Staal, Psy.D. Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, NY NY, U.S.A.


The concept sounds simple, people providing compassionate care to other people. Yet, in providing care to people with dementia this has been a very elusive construct.  Dementia, currently affects over 35 million people with the most common diagnosis being Alzheimer’s disease [1]. The hallmarks of symptoms associated with dementia are cognitive and functional decline and in many people, the development of behavioral and psychological symptoms (BPSD) based on neurological and functional decline. 20 % of people with the illness live in the community while 40-60% of people reside in care facilities, secondary to behavioral symptoms such as agitation or wandering or inability to care for oneself due to functional decline [2]. The numbers of people diagnosed with dementia is expected to balloon by 2040, based on a large cohort of people aging at the same time, with numbers of people with this diagnosis, estimated to be as high as 81.1 million world wide [3]. The alarm of raising base rates is exacerbated, for at this time, there are no biologically based treatments to prevent or cure dementia.

Non pharmacological interventions to increase well being are first line interventions [1] in dementia care and the efficacy of these approaches may be increased if provision of care emphasizes a person centered approach. The rationale for a person centered approach is based on disease specific non biological issues of dementia with care practices and associated care problems [4]. 

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