Fragrances - Guest Blog


My friend and colleague Jay Coakley, Therapy Technician, devised a CST session based on identifying fragrances and reminiscence. It was very well received in our ‘Cariad Dementia Cafe’ last year.

What Jay did was to identify a series of everyday and some unusual smells and insert them into clean and empty used herb pots, covered in differently coloured papers. (Jay had to take great care not to include liquids or powders with toxin or allergen warnings.)

The pots, each containing a different fragrance, were numbered and passed around the tables, with members trying to guess at the smells and write down their guesses.

As correct answers were read out by Jay, time was given for members to comment on whether they liked the smell, what it reminded them of and what memories it evoked.

Here is a list of fragrances that were selected. (More liquid items were dabbed onto cotton wool balls and inserted in the empty pots.)

  • Johnson’s Baby Lotion

  • Old Spice

  • Curry Powder

  • Vanilla Extract

  • Lavender Floor Polish

  • Mint Extract

  • Rose Water

  • Orange Peel

  • Lemon Peel

  • Camp Coffee

  • Crushed Oxo Cube

  • Dairy Chocolate

  • Crushed Pine Needles

  • TCP

  • Vicks Chest Rub

  • Lily Of The Valley

  • Pledge Furniture Polish

  • Clove Oil

  • Dried Garlic

  • Parmesan Cheese

(Add your own fragrances as you wish.)

After guessing the fragrances, we looked at a ‘Daily Mail’ article Jay had found online about the power of smell which listed favourite and worst items. Members were asked to comment on whether they agreed with the top 5 list, namely:

  1. Freshly baked bread

  2. Bacon

  3. Freshly cut grass

  4. Coffee

  5. Cakes baking in the oven

... or whether they would choose something else from the list.

(Article link here https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3096334/amp/Our-50-favourite-smells-revealed-20-worst.html )

Jay wanted readers to note if there is insufficient time to create your own smells box, there are pre-prepared boxes available at Amazon. One which we have previously used is ‘Le Lotto Des Odeurs’ or (English version) ‘Follow Your Nose Bingo Game’. But one should bear in mind these kits can dry out and lose fragrance after a time.


Jay wished to note that if readers wanted to extend their fragrances activity to include taste then a mixed bag of ‘Jelly Belly’ jelly beans is a good choice, with 44 flavours to choose from.

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