Care provision for dementia

The design of the SOMASONO Sofa began in response to a request by the BrainCollective foundation: ‘Is it possible to utilize sound to provide stability for people with dementia by balancing the restlessness they experience due to its accompanying dysfunctional filtering of stimuli?’ In 2018, De Bovenkamer Foundation gave us the opportunity to build a two-seater prototype to make our first explorations with this target group. At this moment we are conducting a study for which you can register.

What can tactile sound do for people with dementia?

The loss of freedom of choice can induce a feeling of fear due to loss of control, which manifests again and again as facing the unknown. The SOMASONO Sofa offers an opportunity to alleviate that fear by relaxing together. Because the harmonizing sound vibrations awaken the body, as it were, we have noticed that this contributes to a renewed contact with one’s surroundings. In this way feelings of anxiety can diminish, giving way for peace and a sensation of space to arise.

Tactile sound is a type of haptic stimulation.

Haptic stimulation of the body brings the primary perceptive modes listening and looking into the background. Feeling with skin, hands, and skeleton then becomes more prominent, creating space. By shifting the perception into one’s sense of feeling, a different state of awareness is created which partly replaces the dominant visual and auditory modes of perception. The effect of this is that focus is redirected away from the fear of a crumbling sense of self in the personality, thereby alleviating the related symptoms of anxiety. The source of tension, usually maintained by the eyes and ears, is thus muted. Playing with foreground and background in this way creates a new balance between static and dynamic stimuli. We want to contribute here, so that more satisfaction may arise with what is or with what is still left.

A healthy brain is accustomed to letting impressions flow together organically.

In nature, we generally experience peace and space. Just as a walk through the forest influences our mood, music and the sounds from our daily lives also do that. Findings suggest that even though the continuous rustling of leaves gradually disappears into the background of our consciousness, this noise still affects both the body and our perception of the environment in a beneficial way. There is sufficient emotional space to relate our sense of self to what we perceive with our five senses, as with a healthy brain. The experience is not only a mental construction but brings the entire organism in line with the reality of that moment. We then blend our impressions organically. Loved ones and people in our environment who wind up in some form of dementia have lost their ability to regulate the processing of sensory stimuli and therefore no longer recognize themselves. We believe that directly addressing the feeling body through tactile sound provides a robust basis for engendering a sense of home and realizing a calm sense of awareness through the body’s innate intelligence.

The SOMASONO Sofa: relaxing for people with dementia.