BUPA in Victoria won accolades for introducing sensory towels for their dementia residents to freshen up before lunch and stimulate their appetite. The warm face washers infused with Citrus sinensis essential oil are heated in the microwave.
They are proving an inexpensive, simple and effective initiative that is resulting in residents eating more with recorded weight gain, more independent eating, and a positive interaction between residents and staff.
The keenness of smell diminishes faster with age than the keenness of taste. It is suggested most 80+ year olds’ sense of smell is half as sharp as what it was during their youth.
For those with dementia, the sensory towels may provide an olfactory cue to stimulate the salivary glands in readiness for food. It can also provide a pleasant one-on-one interaction at a time that residents may be resistive, or not looking forward to their meal.