Engaging Seniors: Smell the Flowers

It takes a certain personality to be able to work with seniors. And Darren Fanelli seems to have it. Activity Director & Community Outreach Coordinator, Darren Fanelli who works at Stepping Stone Adult Day Health just loves meeting new people and talking to them and believes this really helps him work with the elderly. He believes that doing so, is beneficial to the entire community.

Fanelli has a huge amount of respect for the elderly. As he points out: they built this country,” and engaging them in a variety of different ways is crucial to his position at the center.

One way Fanelli does this is via flowers. He does this by regularly picking up flowers from Joel Phmah who kindly donates them to him from his store Piazza Wholesale. The flower activities began when Fanelli was seeking out a new way to find different activities for his clients and Phmah immediately welcomed him. Today he donates to other non-profits who make the request saying that if he has older flowers he’s more than happy to give them to a good cause.

What Fanelli explains about the flowers and elderly is that scent can have an amazingly positive impact on the elderly. Indeed, according to research undertaken a few years ago, in a book called Fragrant Flashbacks, “Memory and smell are intertwined; it’s through memory that we learn to remember smells, and disorders that take away memory also take away the ability to distinguish scents.” For older people – many of whom may have symptoms of memory loss conditions common to their age group – this can be particularly powerful. And, as Fanelli has seen with the flowers, scents help them engage better. Fanelli added that the flowers are particularly beneficial to their “lower functioning clients” and that really “everyone loves flowers” so ends up being a very positive experience.