Using Spices for Remembering and Sensory

Simply being in the kitchen is a sensory experience.

plate with spices


The smells, the sights, the sounds, the texture of food, and of course the tastes that come from there!

Smelling spices and herbs from the kitchen is a sensory and very simple activity.

This is one that many activity coordinators of long-term care homes do with residents to jog a memory and provide sensory stimulation. You can do these things with your older family member or friend.

  • Go through your spice cabinet and take out some of the most memorable and aromatic spices and herbs. These might include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, oregano, basil, thyme, mint, rosemary, vanilla, and garlic (garlic powder in bottles or you can use garlic cloves if you wish).
  • Smell the spices from the bottles. Can your loved one guess what it is without seeing the label? What types of dishes is it used in? Does she remember making a dish from that spice? Does she remember those spices in foods from childhood?
  • Make a dish using one or more of these spices. Suggestions might be cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie, carrot cake, cookies, or spaghetti sauce.
  • If you have herbs growing in pots pinch some leaves off the plants for a fresh herb smell.
  • Whenever you cook with an older family member, remember to have her smell the ingredients.


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