I have a niche brand, but it's not perfume. It's a true innovation: The first smell and memory kit dedicated to enriching the lives of our elderly citizens through the sense of smell. After volunteering for more than a year at Senior Centers, I developed the Essential Awakenings Smell and Memory Kits to help families and caregivers engage the seniors in conversation and the recall of memories through what I call "essential smells": The smells of Apples (apple picking in the autumn) Cinnamon (baking cakes and cookies from scratch), Lilac (the garden back home), Popcorn (think about the wonderful pastime of watching movies together) and others were carefully selected for the kits. Through smelling and engagement with my audience, I have had the thrill to hear and watch my audience excited to talk about moments in their lives, and express their gratitude to me on how smelling can be so much fun! For that, I am thankful that I can help make lives brighter through my innovation. Through my year of product development, I have made what really makes me proud. And it's all Made in the USA!
This is a good article about the sense of smell, and early indicators of Alzheimers, from a 2016 CNN that is worth taking a few minutes to read: http://cnn.it/2a3CrRj
Many are aware of what is called the "Proustian-moment" from Marcel Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past" recalling a moment in time through the sense of smell at tea time. There are other authors who have given us vivid descriptions of smell that allow the reader to escape to an imaginary place. Here is an example written by Willa Cather describing one of my favorite smells that takes me back to the farm, and into the kitchen after my mother baked bread: "Everywhere the grain stood ripe and the hot afternoon was full of the smell of the ripe wheat, like the smell of bread baking in an oven. The breath of the wheat and the sweet clover passed him like pleasant things in a dream.” ― Willa Cather, O Pioneers! Freshly baked bread is considered one of the most alluring smells, and I don't know any country in the world that does not include it in their daily meal. It's no wonder that there is a saying "you have to break bread" with someone who you want to get to know. For me, bread is home and togetherness.
Last month, The Scent Guru Group sent a young woman an Essential Awakenings Premier Edition kit for her to use after she lost her sense of smell after having had an aneurysm. Her father and son helped give her the "smell testing" on the 6 different smells. In the beginning, she did not recognize any of the smells, and now, she recognizes all but one (cinnamon). With a little more time and blind testing, we are certain that she will recognize cinnamon as well. We are sharing her testimonial here from Rosie Rosario of New York City: Essential Awakenings Smell And Memory Kit – Premier Edition About me: I’m a 4 time aneurysm survivor. These aneurysms occurred between May and July of 2017. After 3 craniotomies and one pipeline stent, I am happy to be alive. In the process, I experienced some challenges post surgeries….one being that my olfactory nerve was damaged. This had initially impacted my sense of smell and taste. Initial thoughts: I received the Essential Awakenings Smell And Memory Kit – Premier Edition on July 31st, 2017. Loved the packaging. The kit comes with six labeled rollerball scents, cards and scent strips. Initially I could only smell one scent, Mint. I used the cards, which notes each scent and gives examples of where we would associate such scent – example, Mint, “It grows in gardens.” I associate Mint with tea, therefore, I would remember a moment in time where I’d be sitting drinking this tea. My process, conclusion and my “scents” of it all: Thorough daily sampling, at least 10 min each day, I am happy to say that I can smell five out of the six scents. Cinnamon still presents a struggle for me. To make testing fun, I sometimes made it a game. I would engage my son to help me tests the scents. He would randomly pick a scent, roll some of the scent onto a scent strip (provided also in the kit) and would place it under my nose to detect which scent it was. When I had any trouble, he would say a few words to help me evoke a memory to make a connection with the scent. This method help me and it also helped me connect with my son, which is really great. I use this kit to help me pause, reflect, and to help strengthen my sense of smell. Think of it as muscle training. Through practice, and constant testing, this kit helps stimulate my brain. This gives me, “me time,” reminding me to continually work on my recovery; for that, I highly recommend this wonderful kit. To get to the point of smelling five out of six scents, it has taken me a little over five weeks. Never knew how much I took my sense of smell for granted. Hope this kit helps you and helps you bond further with your family.
I had 12 seniors in my smelling session this AM at River House in Cos Cob, CT! Some adjectives used when smelling their paper strips: "sweet" "it's nice" "soft" "strong" "clean" "powdery" "vanilla" & "chewing gum". From the session, we talked about smell memories from baking, Christmas, and about how much we all liked ice-cream and chocolate. Storytelling is a big part of smelling sessions, and is an easy way to engage our seniors in conversation. Today, I talked about how rose, jasmine, ylang and iris are picked by hand by farmers for use in perfumery.
Here is a good article on smell and memory. The scent of Almond Croissants takes me back to a little patisserie in Le Chesnay France, where I used to buy baguettes & sweet snacks for my girls. What are some of your smell memories?
I just read an article about a new perfume that one of my favorite perfumers, Frank Voelkl of Firmenich developed for the young exciting fashion designer, Jason Wu, and how the scent of jasmine took him back to his childhood home in Taiwan. Jasmine is one of the "essential smells" in the Scent Guru Group's Essential Awakenings Premier Edition. Women for many years have worn perfumes with jasmine as one of the main ingredients and one of the most famous: Joy by Jean Patou, which, for many years was known as the most expensive perfume out on the market. One smell of the jasmine in my kit could take you back in time, or to someone who used to wear it. Great memories can live forever.
Since Spring, I have gone to the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, New York to give volunteer sessions of Essential Awakenings. July 10th was a picture perfect day with the temperature just about 80 degrees, a big beautiful blue sky, and not a cloud in sight. We chose to have the smelling session in the garden that looks out to the Hudson River, making it a perfect spot with a direct connection with nature. I took the Essential Awakenings Premier Edition that includes jasmine, grass, pineapple, chocolate, mint and cinnamon plus several other favorites like lilac, banana, and watermelon to share with the residents. The session started with about 8 people in attendance, but slowly grew to 13. I always give an introduction to tell my audience a little about my background in fragrance development, and more often than not, I will have someone ask how Beyonce was to work with. Getting my audience engaged in conversation is a goal of Essential Awakenings as Smell, Recall, and Connect is my mantra. As the smelling session progressed, the audience engagement increased, and soon some of them conversed and shared memories with each other. Some of the word associations and comments from this very exciting session were: - A beautiful flower garden like we're in - Earth - I have a garden in Europe, wide and long - Petunia in Romania and Hungary - Being home and chocolate pudding - Gardening and farming - Peonies and how the ants crawl out of them The comments mentioned above are poignant, vivid and personal, and illustrate how smells can elicit memories and thoughts that may not be brought out unless prompted. The Essential Awakenings Smell and Memory kits contain smells that have been developed to replicate smells in nature, or smells connected with an occasion (i.e., pumpkin pie or popcorn). Look for the Second Edition that will be available soon, and will consist of Lilac, Vanilla, and other great smells to help our loved ones reconnect with special moments and memories in time.
We love this picture! Ruth Sutcliffe Heagney (center), founder of The Scent Guru Group LLC, enjoying an Essential Awakenings Smell and Memory session with Sunny (left) and Sheldon (right) at the award-winning assisted living community, The Greens At Greenwich in Greenwich, CT.
We wanted to share this article which appeared in the New Haven Register this morning. Very promising news on how a drug compound originally created in an effort to treat schizophrenia has been effective in reversing Alzheimer's symptoms in mice. http://www.nhregister.com/general-news/20170706/drug-shown-to-reverse-alzheimers-symptoms-in-mice-yale-study-shows
Tomorrow is considered The Longest Day by the Alzheimer's Association, and I will be giving two Essential Awakenings Smell and Memory sessions to help raise awareness for the disease as well as promote the benefits that my kits can have on our aging population who live with dementia and Alzheimer's. My first stop will be at Atria in Stamford where I held my first ever Essential Awakenings Smell Therapy session on September 27th, 2016. That session started what I would describe as one of the best paths in my life that I have chosen to follow. Since September, I have held more than 10 sessions at Atria, have gotten to know the residents well, and I feel an enormous amount of joy knowing that they love my sessions for not only the smelling aspect, but for the conversations that can follow. One story I love sharing with others is of the session when I finally convinced a man (I will call him Jim) to join the group. Up until that day, Jim only wanted to sit in his wheelchair outside the circle to watch. Over the course of time, I noticed how he slowly moved his wheelchair to just outside the circle. Finally one day I convinced him to become part of our circle, and when smelling chocolate, he stated, "I want to date a woman who wears this." He then continued to tell me that he used to date a celebrity. I asked him "who?" He responded, "Barbara Hershey". Gullible me asked, "And what fragrance did she wear?" He responded, "chocolate!" It's moments such as this that captures the true personality, humor, and human aspect of the people who I work with. From that day whenever I smell chocolate, I smile and think of that special moment when Jim's true personality came out.
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