Shifting Paradigms: This month's final blog is about my experience at the National ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) convention in Orlando. Every new experience is new learning for this 60+ entrepreneur who is just trying to help humankind in a very unique and innovative way.
My quest to develop the Essential Awakenings® Smell.Recall.Connect as the first aroma-based activity for caregivers, families and Assisted Living Communities helping seniors living with dementia has been a long road, but I can now say that what I have developed is definitely showing results and bringing joy to seniors in a big way. Even though the original plan was to provide smell prompts to recall memories, its purpose and outcome has broadened and it has become a vehicle for a social activity that facilitates conversation and storytelling. According to the Cleveland Clinic, studies show that people who stay connected with the most social interaction experience the slowest rate of memory decline, and that "a rich social network provides sources of support, reduces stress, combats depression and enhances intellectual stimulation." Essential Awakenings® was a project of passion-with-a-purpose that was spawned after my mother died of dementia- related causes in 2016, but the seed for a sensory-based activity for seniors had already been planted years before, when I realized I saw loneliness and desperation in the eyes of my mother and others living in the Assisted Communities where she lived for over 7 years until her death. The Essential Awakenings® Smell.Recall.Connect development required endless hours of planning, research, and walking the walk. I started giving smelling sessions at communities in my area in 2017, and whenever I travelled, I made advance cold-calls to communities in my destination to schedule sessions. By doing so, I have been able to bring the magic of aroma to seniors living in New York, Connecticut, North Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Florida! It was through this process that I was able to determine just which aromas would resonate the best by garnering the most conversation and positive memories. I endured many sleepless nights of worrying of the chance of success, and there were days where my nerves were often on edge because I knew I would be taking a sizable financial risk if I were to go forward in manufacturing. I almost decided to call it quits, but realized that I had come so far, with so much work already behind me and knew I was enriching the lives of a countless number of people along the way, that one day I just decided to "just do it". As Shark Barbara Corcoran has said, "Creating a business is all about taking risks." So I proceeded to dig into my personal funds, took a deep breath, and marched forward with production one step at a time. To this date, I have given more than 80 smelling sessions with more than 1000 people in attendance and have sold kits as far away as Singapore and New Zealand. So what are the actual benefits are for this new activity for seniors? Besides building the awareness of the value of our sense of smell, seniors share memories, interact in conversation regarding these memories and tell stories of their family traditions, vacations, experiences growing up or even tell us about their favorite perfume. The point is, they are connecting with each other. As an example, I'm including anecdotes and testimonials from some of the most remarkable moments from Essential Awakenings® sessions: "My sense of smell helped save my life in Vietnam." - As told by Tim in a smelling session at Riverhouse Senior Center in Cos Cob, CT When smelling mint, Vince R. of ComForCare Agency in Stamford, CT said: "This takes me back to my honeymoon in Morocco." When I asked him when he last talked about mint tea in Morocco, he responded "26 years ago." "It is really a successful tool to create a conversation....and to engage the staff with the ladies. Karlette said the pine smelled like her grandmother’s bathroom in Jamaica. She did not expect to be so moved. This memory got the ladies talking about grandmothers. It is a very profound experience.” Thank you for getting it for us. - Donna Booth, Program Manager, Abilis, Greenwich, CT “Our elders living in our home have enjoyed...
Being a mother has to be the toughest job on earth, and being a mother of a child with a disability is worthy of a gold medal for stamina, patience and mental and emotional strength.
Michele S. lives in Australia, and was my first MindScent® customer. It is my second interview of three with a parent who is raising a child with ASD. Warning: Keep a handkerchief handy.
When I recall the years growing up with a brother born with severe Down Syndrome, I often think how heartbreaking and difficult it was for my mother to take care of the rest of her children on top of taking care of Patrick, who at the age of 7, was like a baby. I remember feeding him peanut and butter sandwiches while he stood in his crib, his hands holding onto the sides to balance himself while I gave him portions of the sandwich one pinch at a time. Back when I was a kid, there weren't any resources for children born with this serious condition, and children who were as disabled as Patrick, were often put into institutions. I'll never forget the day when my parents drove him away from our family farm to take him to a hospital down in Little Rock for an operation on his heart. That was the last time I saw Patrick. Shortly after he left our home, my parents told my siblings and me that he had died before his operation. October is Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and I will follow up on this bit of my life next month. For this month's blog, I will be sharing interviews I've conducted with mothers who graciously accepted to share part of their life as a parent taking care of a child living with Autism. The first interview is with Brita Darany von Regensburg who came to the United States from Germany in 1968, and is a mother of Vanessa (who you may have seen on The Scent Guru Group's Facebook Page). Vanessa has Level 3 Autism, and is a now a grown woman. According to Brita, she was not always ASD. Here is her story: Ruth: You are a mother of a non-verbal autistic woman, Vanessa. Please tell us a little about her. Brita: She was diagnosed when she was 3, which was unusual since most pediatricians in those days did not know the symptoms. She lost her speech when she was about 11 months old. By 16 months, she did not say words anymore. At first, I realized “why doesn’t she say apple? Or “opa” which means grandpa in German. We were living in Riverdale, NY, and we were by the pool one day, and she suddenly screamed her head off...being afraid of the water and the pool. One of our friends who lived in the same building (who was a doctor) recommended we go to a doctor and so we went to Mt. Sinai where she was observed for a week and the doctor --Dr. Allan Arron (who is no longer living) came in every morning with a team of young doctors and they observed Vanessa would follow me like a little lamb, and that’s when they said the diagnosis was Autism and with symbiosis. Ruth: What are some of your major concerns for Vanessa and her future? Brita: I have to live forever! I cannot die. Thank god I’m in very good health. What’s going to happen to her after I’m gone? We (my husband and I) were instrumental in having the state open the first Autism group home for adults in Trumbull. We selected the care provider, RHD (Resources for Human Development) who is based in Philadelphia with branches in almost every state. This is a house in a nice neighborhood with lawns etc, We had a mixed staff, and over the last 19 years we have collaborated with the agency, and the home is now a home where we have a very caring staff. After I am gone, my hopes are to continue to be able to have a caring staff (there) that will continue to do things with Vanessa that she is interested in doing such as interacting, so that she has a more normal life. The house and the care of others are dependent on social systems like Medicaid. Ruth: How do you see the need for change in the support of people living with disabilities such as Autism? Brita: We need to make sure that the basic elements of good life for our children with Autism are maintained, and that the staff receives more thorough training with consistency, depending on what works or does not work for children who are verbal and non-verbal. Increase in Medicaid support and continued SSI and Medicaid payments for higher functioning children or for those who have acquired skills that give...
What scent memories does this former Coty colleague turned entrepreneur, retailer and mentor have? And how did she end up in Crisfield, MD?
The summer has just begun and even though Essential Awakenings® Smell And Memory and Mindscent® kits are sold on my website, I own the inventory, so I'm thrilled to say I have just received and shipped my first Mindscent® order to one of my distributors yesterday. The key to success is not only sales, but good customer and supplier service.
Read about the 10 important facts you need to know about The Scent Guru Group's new innovative multi-sensory activity kit that has been developed with Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Educators and families in mind. With 125 components, it was a true labor of love with many challenges to hurdle.
In honor of those suffering from dementia such as Alzheimer's: June is Alzheimer's and brain health awareness month, and The Scent Guru Group is offering 20% off of any Essential Awakenings® Smell and Memory or Mindscent® activity kit using the discount code HOMECARE2019 at checkout.
How Easter and the smell of Lilac in Asheville, North Carolina has connected me to the seniors living at Brookdale Senior Living’s Dementia And Alzheimer’s Community.