When you walk into the light sensory room at Rolling Green Village, senior living community in Greenville, for the first time, you’re transported to a space a child would only dream of playing in. From the dangling LED light curtain on the walls to the light and sound panels that can be felt by a human hand, this room is built to engage the mind for all ages. For the past six months, this space has been changing the lives of memory care residents at the community by helping stimulate their five senses.
“We built this room as a way to make the lives of these memory care residents as normal as possible,” said designer and Director of Facilities Skip Wiggins. “The light sensory room is helping these residents stay engaged and feel like they still have meaning.”
Historically, sensory rooms have been geared toward those with learning or physical disabilities, but recent studies have shown they can also have a calming and stimulating effect for those living with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The Rolling Green Village light sensory room took three months to create. Wiggins and his team measured the space and decided the best products to include that would enhance the experience. Inside the room you’ll find light boxes, light-up globes, a chair with LED lights, and push panels that vibrate.
“It’s truly amazing to walk into this space for the first time,” said Wiggins. “You see the lights and hear the sounds; you don’t know what to touch first. It’s very rewarding to see our residents’ faces light up when they spend time within this space.”
A 2017 report from the Alzheimer’s Association projects an estimated 89,000 South Carolinians suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The incidence of dementia is expected to grow by nearly 35% and affect 120,000 people by 2025. Rolling Green Village has seen the impact of dementia as their memory care community, Evergreen Place, continues to grow with new residents and higher demand.
“This is a growing concern within our country and our state,” said Marketing Director Ruth Wood. “We want to make sure our family members who have dementia have the best care and stay as active and engaged as they can. Therefore, our community promotes the personalized approach to memory care, Heartfelt Connections – A Memory Care Program®, which is designed to help people living dementia.”
Along with the light sensory room, Rolling Green Village has launched the curiosity room, which is supplied with a wide range of different products and materials to engage the memory care residents. In the fall of 2018, the community also welcomed the first and only Paro pet in Greenville, Jenny the Seal. The therapy pet has been showed to improve the psychological health of older adults living with dementia.
“I’ve worked at Rolling Green Village for more than a decade now,” said Wiggins. “These residents have become a part of my family. We want to make sure that our family members receive the best care imaginable. That’s what these products and these spaces are doing. They’re giving these people new life.”