Certain smells recall memories in dementia folks, who doesn't connect the smell of vanilla with home and mother baking some sugary confection? Or the scent of Old Spice or Tabu cologne to a long ago memory of a loved one? Maybe just the smell of coffee brewing or a whiff of chocolate may bring back a smile from a forgotten kitchen memory. Although sense of smell may diminish with dementia some do retain it. Familiar and pleasant smells can create a happy mood in your loved one, try:


  • Lotions and rubs. Even late stage loved ones benefit from the soothing application and smell of a perfumed lotion, especially beneficial during sundowning hours. Try citrus, lemon, lavendar or even mix them up.
  • Cooking spices/herbs. Especially for those folks that once loved to cook, open up a spice container and let your loved one sniff the scent of rosemary, nutmeg or cinnamon. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a bowl of warm water, wet a facecloth with it, give it to your loved one to wash their hands & face before a meal.
  • Strong smelling flowers. Was your loved one a gardener or just have a love for fresh cut flowers? Try having them smell roses, carnations, hyacinths etc to bring back memories.
  • Colognes, after shaves and perfumes. Everytime I smell Tabu I know I think of my own mother, is there a familiar old scent hiding in any old perfume/after shave bottles that could be shared?
  • Smells related to previous work. Ex-ranchers may react to freshly mown hay, ex-teachers to the smell of crayons or chalk, my father was a barber so he would have remembered the smell of Bay Rum after shave.
  • Pleasant food smells. Who doesn't have a fond memory of bread or cookies baking? You may spark something from folks not wanting to eat or not be able to eat any longer.


These are things to try for interaction not only for mid-stage dementia but it may also reach in to a late-stage dementia victim.


Cheryl Fletcher/MyLocalNetwork.net


Note: MyLocalNetwork.net does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is purely informational only.