Soap- and candle-making helps with memory recall

HomePlace Memory Care residents make and sell candles to raise money for Alzheimer’s advocacy.

For these Oak Harbor residents, memory smells like rose, pine and lavender.

Live-in residents at HomePlace Memory Care in Oak Harbor make and sell sugar scrubs, epsom salt bath soaks, candles, wax melts and bars of soap to raise money for Alzheimer’s Disease care, research and advocacy.

The program began around two years ago, according to HomePlace lifestyle coordinator Paige Thurman. HomePlace is a long-term care facility that specializes in helping residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia-related illnesses. Thurman said HomePlace managers wanted some kind of gift to share with families who came to tour the facility and decided on scent and bath products.

HomePlace residents on the community council wanted to make the products, and it became an ongoing activity.

“It just kind of spiraled from there,” Thurman said.

The products have since become a way to promote awareness of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that affect memory. HomePlace sells the candles, soaps and other products in the facility’s lobby and donates the proceeds to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Making soaps and bath salts also comes with direct benefits for the residents. Scent is the sense most directly connected with memory, Thurman said. When residents make the sweet-smelling goods, the scents they use help them recall memories from past times in their lives.

For example, seasonal scents used in December such as pine or sugar cookies might help residents remember decorating the Christmas tree with their families or baking with their grandparents when they were children, Thurman said.

Even residents who can’t fully participate in making the products can still smell the oils and scents and discuss the memories that arise.

“Having that scent alone helps so much with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” Thurman said.

The products all cost $5 or less and can be purchased in the HomePlace lobby in Oak Harbor. HomePlace currently only accepts cash for the sales.

Resident Carleen Straub makes jars of homemade epsom salt bath soaks. (Photo provided)

Resident Carleen Straub makes jars of homemade epsom salt bath soaks. (Photo provided)