Whether it be a favorite song, a family photo, or the aroma of a meal as it’s being prepared, people can be transported back in time – to fond memories and happy moments – through the rekindling of the senses such as sound, sight or taste.
Such was the case at a recent event held at Oakstone, Moorings Park at Grey Oaks’ memory care center. Gisela Bouvier, a registered dietitian at the Life Plan (CCRC) community, helped memory care residents create, bake and eat bread rolls to stimulate their senses.
The “Nourishment Through the Senses” event was designed to provide residents with a hands-on activity of baking bread. With a nutritional approach and focus on mindful eating, the session encouraged residents to be in the present moment, while also enhancing their memory.
“Food is highly connected to memory and our goal was to help residents remember a fond memory through the power of food,” said Bouvier.
Participants chose a variety of toppings that they kneaded into two raw bread rolls. Having various toppings was significant since the residents were directed to select toppings based on their food preference, taste, and a fond memory.
Once the first activity was completed, the bread rolls were then baked in the memory care’s open kitchen, and the aroma of baking bread filled the room. Within minutes the participants enjoyed their personally prepared bread rolls with their choice of coffee or tea.
“The scent of baking bread, the feel of dough between hands and fingers, and incorporating flavors into the bread are all sensory experiences that can awaken the memory centers of the brain and engage residents in responses that are both emotional and physical,” Bouvier stated.
The residents were enthusiastic about the event and were delighted to explain why they chose the ingredients they did.
One used Heath bar crumbles because it reminded him of growing up in New Jersey and buying the treat at the neighborhood drugstore. Another chose to make a small pizza with cheese and garlic because he grew up in a family-owned Italian bakery, where he and his father would bake together.
When asked if they’d like to participate in another bread-baking session in the future, one memory care resident, without hesitation, gave a resounding “Yes. This has been so fun.”
Oakstone’s Memory Care Center is located on the fourth floor of Grande Place in Moorings Park at Grey Oaks. For more information call 239-778-9763 or visit MooringsParkGO.org.