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Using Scents To Help Trigger Positive Memories In Loved Ones With Dementia

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As the entire country continues to navigate through the pandemic, everyone is feeling the strain of staying close to home, especially those who are caregivers for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementias. We work with so many clients who are caring for parents and other loved ones with dementia. Helping get legal affairs in order is a top priority, but we’ve also learned so much over the years that can be helpful to both the one with dementia and the caregiver.

The power of scent memory for persons with dementia and Alzheimer’s is powerful and can be useful for caregivers. Scent can help calm those with dementia and can evoke warm, positive memories. In fact, according to a recent article, “A number of behavioral studies have demonstrated that smells trigger more vivid emotional memories and are better at inducing that feeling of “being brought back in time” than images.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201501/smells-ring-bells-how-smell-triggers-memories-and-emotions

Depending on what part of the country you call home the scents of fall can include cane or maple syrup being boiled, apple cider being pressed, and the rich combination of spices that are used in everything pumpkin. Getting out for a walk or drive in the country, if possible, could be a wonderful way to put your loved one in the midst of pleasant scents. If not, why not pop an apple or pumpkin pie or batch of cookies into the oven. For some, the warm smell of garlic bread will do the trick. If your loved one can’t get out of doors, perhaps you can open the windows after a fresh rain or after the lawn has been mowed.

If you are a caregiver to a loved one with any type of dementia, you must take good care of yourself too. Having gentle ways to positively alter the mood of the one in your care can be a powerful tool. Scented candles, essential oils, a pot of stew simmering on the stove or chicken soup can be as nourishing and calming for you as well as for the one in your care.