Scent expert Linda Harman explains how the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness can be so enjoyable for someone with dementia
This time of year is full of anticipation as we await the first frost and thoughts start to turn towards preparing for the long cold months of winter. For me this involves an onslaught of preparations such as ordering in the logs and getting the chimney swept (I know – I should have done it months ago!).
Whilst all of the above inevitably bring some regrets that yet another summer is over, autumn is a time that is rich in both colour and scent. Leaves, resplendent in their seasonal colours, leave a distinct smell as they lay on the ground; a musty, earthy sort of smell. For those with gardens there is the annual ritual of gathering up the leaves and the joy of bonfires – the unique smoky scent which is the reward for all the effort.
Then there is the sweet scent of newly harvested apples and the luscious smell of seasonal cooking; apple and blackberry crumble is a real autumnal treat. And as windows and doors close and we retreat into the cosiness of a more indoor existence for the next few months, there may be the scent of a log fire to look forward to.
The coming and going of the seasons provide many opportunities for sharing pleasurable experiences with people with dementia – walking together through the leaves, picking up a shiny fallen conker or sitting snugly with a fresh cup of tea or hot chocolate. This is certainly the case for my own mother, who has dementia.
On the autumnal equinox my mother and I went for a stroll and I repeatedly tried to tell her that winter was coming. When words failed, I reached down to the ground, picking up a pretty golden leaf, and pressed it into her hand, repeating once again that today was the first day of autumn.
She turned it over several times, stroking the crumpled surface as we walked away. Then she looked at me and said; “Christmas”. We walked companionably on having shared the moment and the satisfaction of her understanding through a sensory experience.
Happiness is created through sharing and autumn is a delicious sensory festival of colour, smell and flavour that is perfect for sharing. Enjoy.