While winter lingers in many regions of the US and most Assisted Living Communities are on lock down, an Essential Awakenings® activity is perfect for caregivers and Program Directors to keep their residents and loved ones stimulated and connected to each other in a social setting. During the kits' development period, I intentionally selected specific aromas that would allow seniors to recall memories from past experiences and to be able to connect to the aromas of nature throughout the year: The scent of lilac prepares us for spring, the smell of grass will conjure conversations about baseball games and picnics and the aroma of pineapple might take you to that summer vacation on the beach sipping that pina colada!
Unfortunately, we are going through a trying time where the elderly are especially vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, and thus, they will have limited exposure to the outside world. I was told by a former Program Director at the Bridges of Norwalk that "Essential Awakenings® brings the outdoors in." It's important to connect with nature, not only just being in it, but taking in the aroma of it. Just today while walking my dog, I caught the aroma of early spring blossoms in the breeze, and looked around to find where the aroma was coming from, and discovered it was from a bush several feet away from me. Think of this: Imagine what it would be like for us to be inside for days not being able to experience what I had today. Imagine life without having the opportunity to smell grass, lilacs or that sweet sultry smell of jasmine?
An Essential Awakenings® activity is easy to conduct. Anyone can do it, and a lot of it is instinctive. The smell prompts can be used as a guessing game that stimulates the mind and challenges the audience to think and express how they would describe the aroma or for storytelling time. Everyone has a story, and the facilitator can lead the way by telling their own stories connected to the aromas. Essential Awakenings® is a joyful experience for everyone and to view some of the joy, videos of several sessions are available on YouTube under Ruth Sutcliffe or The Scent Guru Group. Enjoy the oncoming spring everyone, and above all, be safe!