Persistence Of Memory: Scent Gardens For Therapeutic Life Review In Communities For The Elderly
Meyer, Wendy Joan
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This paper links the study of olfaction and autobiographical memory with the practices of reminiscence therapy and landscape architecture, with the goal of bringing this life-enhancing therapy into the garden. Smells have proven to be powerful stimulators of early, emotional childhood memories due to the structure and evolution of the human brain. Research shows improved self-esteem, less depression and better social integration in older adults who are able to call up autobiographical memories in the process of reminiscence therapy. Therefore, landscape architects designing gardens for the elderly in long-term care could include aromatic plants and construction materials, chosen either to suit a particular group of residents, or as an expression of the regional plant and materials palette of each home site. Such gardens could be used by horticultural therapists and nursing staff to provide the benefits of reminiscence therapy to elderly residents in long-term care settings.