Aromatherapy is a safe and effective treatment for many symptoms of dementia. Studies show certain scents can ease anxiety, depression, and restlessness and promote sleep.
Essential oils (EOs) are aromatic compounds derived from plants. They can be extracted from leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, seeds, bark, and sap. Extracts have signature scents that offer physical and mental benefits. The use of EOs to promote wellbeing is called aromatherapy.
In 1998, an EO study was conducted with 36 seniors at a dementia day care facility in New South Wales. Subjects received 10-minute hand massages with lavender, mandarin, and geranium oils. After the massage, seniors showed better alertness, contentment, and sleep, and they became less prone to wandering, withdrawal, and agitation.
When your loved one breathes in a fragrance, his or her nostril hairs absorb the molecules. The fragrance molecules then travel to the olfactory bulb, which converts the scent into a neural message and transmits it to the limbic system. This brain region is connected to other centres that govern blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. The message continues to the hippocampus, where short-term memories are stored, and proceeds to the hypothalamus, the storage centre for long-term memory. When the nerve message reaches the endocrine glands, they secrete hormones that cause pleasant feelings. Through this neural pathway, the brain links certain scents to emotions and thoughts, prompting predictable responses. When an EO is applied to skin, the molecules enter the bloodstream. From there, they travel to other body systems, causing positive physiological changes.
Here are seven essential oils that can make life with dementia easier.
This extract has a spicy-sweet fragrance similar to citrus, and it lifts depression by stimulating the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. Bergamot can also replace anxiety with contentment, promote a good night’s sleep, relieve headache and muscle tension, and enhance a senior’s quality of life.
Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in North Coast, NSW, home care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.
2. Lemon Balm
This strong lemon scent can calm agitated seniors. If your loved one is withdrawn, a lemon balm oil massage may coax interaction. In 2013, scientists at the University of Melbourne found that inhaling lemon balm boosted cognition and alleviated anxiety and depression.
This energising aroma sparks alertness and aids memory by boosting oxygen flow to the brain. Peppermint fragrance can also calm anxiety, relieve headaches, and relax muscles. Since peppermint is so invigorating, use it during the daytime hours.
This herb has a sweet floral scent with balsam undertones, which can relax muscles and nerves. Give your loved one a whiff of lavender when he or she is anxious or agitated. At bedtime, make sure to spray a mixture of lavender and water on linens to soothe your loved one into sleep.
The scent of rosemary can stimulate the brain and make seniors recall their past memories. Inhaling rosemary also enhances accuracy and speed when doing simple math or managing other daily tasks.
Currently, scientists are evaluating rosemary’s ability to delay Alzheimer’s progression. The extract appears to inhibit the formation of the protein clumps and tangles.
If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. North Coast seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to.
6. Ylang Ylang
This extract has a floral scent. When your loved one inhales it, he or she may feel more relaxed. Ylang Ylang alleviates anxiety, anger, and depression, lowers blood pressure, and induces sleep.
This herb has an aroma of caramel and dark chocolate. Inhaling frankincense promotes calmness and relieves depression. The scent sends blood to the brain, increasing oxygen and promoting memory recall. It also balances hormones that regulate emotion and mood.
Frankincense aids sustained sleep. Before bedtime, offer your loved one a shower or bath with lavender and frankincense. If your loved one has restless leg syndrome, apply both oils to the soles of his or her feet. Frankincense also enhances the effects of lemon balm and ylang ylang.
If you do not have time to help your loved one with EO therapy or managing daily tasks, consider hiring a professional respite caregiver. North Coast respite care professionals can assist seniors with a wide array of daily tasks, offering family caregivers the chance to focus on other personal responsibilities or take a break to prevent burnout. Whether it’s for a few hours a day or a few days a week, respite care is the perfect solution for family caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed. To hire a professional caregiver or create a high-quality senior care plan for your elderly loved one, call Home Care Assistance at 1300 LIVE-IN or (02) 6646 3527 today.