Alzheimer's / Dementia

1/18/2023 | By Faith Boluwatife

An increasingly popular therapy, Deep Pressure Stimulation, has spawned products promising to help a variety of issues, with easy do-it-yourself applications. What is DPS and can Deep Pressure Stimulation for seniors offer real benefits?

The popularity of Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) can be traced back to therapies for autism. Scientist and autism advocate Temple Grandin developed a “hug box,” to help ease anxiety for autistic children and adults. The concept expanded to include similar products and as therapies for other conditions. DPS is a promising solution for older adults to manage illnesses like dementia and Parkinson’s disease. Although much research is still being carried out on the technique, DPS for seniors is gaining traction and popularity.

Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) is a form of therapy that involves applying firm but gentle pressure to the body to relax the nervous system and create a sense of calm in individuals. The pressure can be applied through hugs, holding, stroking, swaddling, or squeezing, using hands, special massage tools, or products designed specifically to provide pressure.

Some of the credit for this solution (DPS) goes to Dr. Temple Grandin, who is on the autism spectrum. She observed that going through a squeeze chute instantly calmed agitated cattle, so she designed a “hugging machine” to help with her own anxiety.

Today, this idea has evolved into a solution that helps people of all ages on the autism spectrum. In nursing homes and among the elderly, DPS appears to be an approach that can alleviate common conditions like anxiety, dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Other disorders that might benefit from DPS include ADHD, psychiatric disorders (PTSD, depression), and sensory processing disorder (SPD).

Products providing Deep Pressure Stimulation for seniors

Many people, including seniors, find that DPS can help them improve their quality of sleep, reduce anxiety, increase coordination, boost focus and attention, and reduce stress.

Techniques and products promising to help seniors include:

Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets are promoted to help people improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety or worry. According to a study on seniors in a nursing home, weighted blankets had a positive impact on residents’ health in terms of their sleep, activity, and psychological behavior.

smiling woman sitting on couch, covered by a blanket. Image by Nomadsoul1. Can Deep Pressure Stimulation for seniors provide benefits? A look at DPS, products like weighted blankets, and advantages for older adults.

Weighted blankets are loaded with small beads to make them heavier. The pressure the blanket exerts on the body aids in relaxation by triggering your parasympathetic nervous system, releasing relaxation-inducing hormones serotonin and melatonin, to transport the mind and body to “rest mode.”

The effect of weighted blankets on seniors is vital because it’s a non-pharmacological approach, which is safer and more convenient. It also helps elderly adults avoid the conditions caused by too little sleep, such as memory loss and confusion. For people of all ages, a deeper sleep works to improve brain function and promote cardiovascular health.

Weighted blankets are available in various sizes and colors, becoming an attractive item of décor rather.

Related: More sleep products for adults


Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSD) are trained to lessen the impact of a panic attack by applying pressure to their owner’s body using their body weight.

They’re used in DPS for mood disorders, dementia, PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

The method of applying pressure varies depending on the size of the dog. A small dog can provide pressure by sitting on their owner’s lap, whereas a larger dog can use their chin to provide tactile stimulation to various parts of the owner’s body.

Using service dogs for seniors can also reduce loneliness and depression and increase physical activity.

Sensory Swings

Sensory swings are Deep Pressure Stimulation tools that can help seniors improve their sensory modulation. Sensory modulation is the brain’s ability to interpret sensory input including sight, sound, smell, taste, and movement to self-regulate and form a suitable motor response.

By teaching the body and brain to work together, the swinging motion from sensory swings develops the proprioceptive (sensation of our body’s position in space) and vestibular (our balance center) systems. The result of this sensory integration is improved focus, awareness, coordination, concentration, and balance.

Sensory Socks and Body Sacks

Sensory body socks, also known as body sacks, are like stretchy, lightweight sleeping bags. They provide the appropriate amount of resistance and proprioceptive input, which calms the wearer.

Body sacks can help seniors boost sensory integration and self-regulation. They also serve as a form of hug therapy – something we all can benefit from.

Weighted Stuffed Animals

Weighted stuffed animals, like weighted blankets, use gentle pressure to promote feelings of safety and calm.

Our dopamine levels naturally decrease as we get older. Some of the effects of low dopamine levels are depression, Parkinson’s disease, and schizophrenia. When seniors use this DPS tool, their brain produces serotonin and dopamine, which helps them avoid and manage dopamine-related illnesses.

Robot dogs, designed like small lap dogs with gentle movement and sounds, can also help seniors deal with dementia and loneliness.

Related: Robot pets for seniors

Deep Pressure Stimulation for seniors offers an important tool for managing some conditions of aging. A good old-fashioned hug can help supplement the importance of pressure, too, so if you are a senior or have a senior loved one, never underestimate the power of touch!

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Faith Boluwatife

Faith Boluwatife is an enthusiastic freelancer and regular contributor for As an experienced writer, Faith has created content for diverse industries.