Aromatherapy and massage can be used to provide wonderful benefits for Dementia and Alzheimer’s patients.
Aromatherapy is herbal medicine that uses the medicinal properties of essential oils from plants and herbs. French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse coined the term aromatherapy in 1937, when he witnessed first-hand the healing power of lavender oil on healing skin burns. (I keep a bottle of lavender essential oil in the kitchen near my spice for that very reason).
Essential oils can affect almost every system in the body. Each essential oil has a unique pharmacological effect, such as anti-bacterial, antiviral, diuretic, vasodilator, tranquilizing, and adrenal stimulating.
Combining a variety of essential oils and the act of touch can bring someone suffering from Alzheimer’s a sense of relaxation and well being. For patients in late stages of the disease process, essential oils are critical, instead of using a scented lotion. The oil is directly absorbed into the skin and blood stream with the ability to cross the blood brain barrier–lotions and moisturizers are unable to achieve this effect. The essential oils continue to aid in relaxation when scent receptors are no longer working-such as those in the late stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Here is a great video on how to do relaxing hand massage (this is what we do for Scott’s mom Emily Ruth-we just go a little more gently on hers.)
You can also spray citrus essential oils onto a handkerchief or tissue in the morning. Allow your friend or family member to hold and smell the tissue. Citrus (I use a blend Bergamot and Sweet Orange) has natural energizing and uplifting properties. I used to place a few drops on a cotton ball and pin it to my Gran’s shirt so she could smell it-she called it a “flower”. The aroma commonly stimulates appetite and energy.
Incorporating air diffusers that release essential oils such as lavender and vanilla can go a long way to creating a relaxing environment. The diffusers can be used in bathrooms to disperse lavender scents while showering, as well as sitting areas and bedrooms.
Love, Laughter & Candlelight!