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MESQUITE - Bill Eldridge often walks his wife of 51 years to their favorite place.

That place is on the same floor of her nursing home and is a room that has become a refuge. It's called a Snoezelen room, which is pronounced snooze-uh-len and is a Dutch word that means to explore and relax.

The rooms were developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s to help people with mental disabilities. Research on Snoezelen rooms is scarce, though the concept is now prevalent in Europe.

Overseas, Snoezelen rooms are often used for people with autism and developmental disabilities.

Christian Care Centers - a retirement, assisted living and nursing home facility in Mesquite - has created two of them for residents with dementia and Alzheimer's.

The agitated individual that's not able to communicate verbally [and] that has a lot of frustration from the stimulation they're receiving will go into the Snoezelen room and find peace and to relax and enjoyment, explained Angela Green, a co-executive director of the center.

The rooms are filled with sensory stimulation including soothing music, bright lights, interesting textures like fur throws and rubber balls and aromatherapies.

We found that the colors and the sound and the motion and the touch that they're able to experience, all of those things involve all of their senses and give them a complete enjoyment of their surroundings and something to interact with, Green said. It's not uncommon to see one laughing or dancing when they're in the environment, and even having good memory recall to the point that they can answer questions.

Carol Eldridge, who is the final stages of Alzheimer's disease, is usually moving non-stop.

Back here, she's just content to be at ease, said her husband, who often sits quietly with his wife in the room as they hold hands.

Though she no longer speaks, her husband is certain it's the Snoezelen room that calms her.

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