The Power of Smell and Sound

When you’ve lost the ability to do many of the things you once loved, life can be frustrating. It’s one of the reasons why people do NOT like to age.  We all can understand how that might feel, but when you see your aging grandparents/parents experience these losses, what can you do?

To start, the power of presence and of touch are so important. I’ll touch on these hopefully another day, but today is all about the power of smell and sound. 
I’ve been feeling nauseous and awfully tired lately (if you know what I mean).  While I used to come home, make dinner (some days), do some laundry and get in my daily workout, I now come home with little energy to complete any of those tasks.  It’s frustrating but in my case, it is temporary.  For an elderly person though, this is fairly common with time.  
This evening I didn’t want to eat and I was feeling so drowsy.  I took out some lavender massage oil, massage my hands a bit, to complement that, turned on some calming music.  A whiff of the lavender and just a bar or two of the music helped me breathe a little slower and literally made me feel better within SECONDS.
At the hospice organization where I work, aromatherapy and music are two of the nonmedicine or “nonpharmacologic” ways that are used to manage a person’s pain or discomfort. If smell and sound can be used to help agitated patients or people who are in extreme pain relax, imagine the power smell and sound can have on all of us.
To be more specific, consider the effect that music or smell could have on your aging grandparent, parent, or friend.  Far too many elderly people sit in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and in their own homes, bored and sedentary.  Far too many young people do that too for that matter!  Sometimes we hear a song and it triggers a happy memory.  It gets our feet tapping, our head bobbing and it can really do a number to uplift our souls.  When I used to work in the fitness center at the retirement community, we used to put on Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Glenn Miller, and other big band music from the past.  Within one note, 70, 80 and 90-year olds were all moving to the beat.  They loved exercising to the music.  A tune can do that  to you. Next time you visit your grandparent, consider bringing an Ipod and speakers.  
The same is true with smell.  Ever bake a favorite recipe of your grandparents just to let them enjoy the smell?  Take a deep breath when an apple pie is in the oven and you’ll know what I’m talking about.  Certain scents can really serve as medicine to the soul.  
Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” was first introduced to me by the resident in that same fitness center.  Listen for a quick pick-me-up!