Benefits of Aromatherapy on Dementia

Sunrise Senior Living  |  July 20, 2016
Aromatherapy is using those smells to benefit those with Alzheimer's or dementia conditions.
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When you're in a bad mood, what do people typically advise you to do? Take a deep breath in and out. But some take that one step further and light up some aromatic scents. Turns out aromatherapy isn't just good for reducing anxiety, but its also effective at easing certain symptoms of Alzheimer's and related dementia conditions. 

There's no denying that certain smells stir up unique feelings and emotions for everyone. But aromatherapy is using those smells to benefit those with Alzheimer's or dementia conditions. The nursing blog Very Well noted that aromatherapy is the fastest growing complementary treatment, as they have found that scents help those diagnosed with Alzheimer's. 

What is aromatherapy?
According to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy, is both an art and science as it uses natural essential oils and extracts from plants that chemically balance the body, mind and spirit. Though it had been used for centuries for medicinal purposes, it was formalized by the French perfumer and chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse in 1937 when he published his book on how to effectively use essential oils for physiological ailments, therefore making it a scientifically backed medical use for aromatic substances.

How does it work for Alzheimer's care?
Very Well explained that studies have found aromatherapy can help seniors with anxiety and depression issues, as well as encourage a better quality of life. Aromatherapy specifically helps those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease relieve agitation and improve sleep. Less unrest means better control over daily processes for the senior, as well as better memory care when they can get a good night sleep. Professionals draw out the oil extracts of plants and can serve them to patients a variety of ways. They are either inhaled, ingested or soaked in through the skin. 

What are the most beneficial essential oils for Alzheimer's care?
According to Alzhimers.net, there are several different essential oil scents that have been found to effectively treat the different symptoms of dementia. Check out the more common scents that you might be able to find right in your very own home:

  1. Rosemary: This is a fresh aroma that is used to uplift the mind and body, improving cognitive performance and even mood, explained the source. When used in cooking, rosemary helps to ease blocked colons and helps spur appetite.
  2. Lavender: One of the better known scents, lavender is used to calm feelings of anxiety, depression and general mood swings. It can be applied a number of ways, through direct inhalation, lotions or as an aerosol. 
  3. Peppermint: This is an essential oil that is a treat for everyone - who doesn't love the smell of fresh peppermint? The source explained that this wintery mint is used to energize patients. It also can be inhaled directly, applied to the skin via a lotion or sprayed in the air. 
  4. Lemon Balm: This extract is a little bit more on the expensive side as it is one of the more effective oils, reported the source. It gives those who use it the ability to relax and also improves memory and digestion. Lemon oils can be used in a bath, via inhalation, lotion or a spray. 
  5. Ginger: Ginger is a go-to for anyone with indigestion, but its especially good for those suffering from dementia. It can be used as a lotion to be applied directly on the abdominal area, or used as a compress, or aerosol. 

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