Never mind the roses, the best smell can be a mix of wet grass, wood and earth.
That mixture of smells can so easily evoke memories of the garden shed and home.
The feel of old seed packets, rough string and twine and well-worn tools can bring back memories in exactly the same way, even for people with various stages of dementia.
Which is why Green Synergy, with support from South Holland District Council (SHDC), is putting on a Gardening for the Brain course in Sutton Bridge next month.
It’s aimed at both health care professionals, care workers and those living with people with dementia, and will teach skills and techniques they can then share.
Course tutor Paul Ievins, a project officer with Green Synergy, says: “ We start with something quite sensory, like a rummage box, though I use a trug or horticultural bag, and it’s a bit like a lucky dip. People can take objects out and it will spark off memories.”
Paul says what he is trying to do is start a conversion, and one that can be shared in the group.
He says: “You have to understand that possibly the sense of reality that person is experiencing is their sense of reality, so it’s their memories they are bringing back, and whether they are muddling them up with other memories is not really the point.
“The point is that person is being valued and appreciated for sharing their thoughts.
“We are trying to generate a sense of satisfaction, enjoyment and companionship through a moment of engagement. There is always the hope that the activity will provide emotional release, build skills and self-esteem, and open avenues for expression. It may result in a moment of intense personal lucidity.”
The course is valuable for carers because it helps them understand there are things they can do to make a difference to the quality of life of someone with dementia, says Paul. The day will give them the skills and confidence they need to share the activities.
The course is being run at the Curlew Centre on Friday, February 3 (10am-4pm) and places need to be booked in advance (£25 for organisations, £5 for volunteers/family carers) on 01522 533077.