All across the country there are seniors and their caregivers struggling with the many challenges that come with age. Those challenges can be especially difficult when seniors are suffering from dementia. But now, growing numbers are turning to aromatherapy for help.
Aromatherapy is the practice of using aromatic essential oils to improve physical and psychological well-being. It is considered an alternative form of medicine in some parts of the world. Though clinical evidence in support of its therapeutic abilities is not yet where proponents want it to be, there are plenty of people whose own stories provide ample anecdotal evidence.
Modern aromatherapy relies heavily on essential oils extracted from lemon, lavender, chamomile, rose, hyssop, sage, and more. Each of the different oils is said to promote different aspects of physical and psychological well-being. For example, peppermint is a popular choice among people looking to reduce stress.
Lavender and Anxiety Among Seniors
Lavender is a popular choice among seniors and their caregivers due to its relaxing properties. According to one study published in 2013, lavender can be as effective as anti-anxiety medications in some people. That makes it a good choice anxious for seniors. It is believed that aromatherapy can help seniors by:
- reducing stress
- improving sleep
- improving digestion
- addressing depression
- reducing the perception of pain.
Again, research in support of essential oils for improving psychological and physical well-being is limited. Proponents rely on centuries of anecdotal evidence and history as proof that aromatherapy is effective. For the record, aromatherapy is ancient medicine. It is by no means a modern phenomenon.
Employing It at Home
Zephyr Fresh, a Utah company that combines aromatherapy with whole-home scenting, explains that there are a number of ways people can employ aromatherapy in their own homes. The simplest and easiest way is to purchase a bottle of essential oil and put a few drops on a dish. It will not be long before its odor begins permeating the space.
You can also use a small diffuser that sits on top of a nightstand or coffee table. The diffuser runs on battery power. It slowly diffuses the essential oil into the surrounding air, making it a good choice for filling an entire room with the desired scent.
The most effective method for aromatherapy throughout the home is to use a whole-home diffuser. The whole-home diffuser is a device that attaches to a home’s HVAC unit with a couple of screws or an adhesive strip. It includes a hose that gets inserted into the HVAC duct system.
The diffuser is designed to work in much the same way as a tabletop diffuser in the sense of slowly diffusing essential oil into the air. What makes it different is that the essential oil is diffused throughout the entire home whenever the HVAC unit turns on. So rather than just enjoying aromatherapy in one room, it is enjoyed throughout the entire house.
Choosing the Right Essential Oils
In closing, it must be emphasized that people react differently when exposed to aromatherapy. One person might do extremely well with lavender. It might help him or her relax and improve his/her sleep. However, someone else may find that lavender does nothing. That person may turn to rosemary or peppermint to experience its calming effects.
Choosing the right essential oils is a matter of experimenting. You try one and see if it works for you. If you are a caregiver looking to help a senior family member, ask that person’s doctor if there are one or two essential oils he or she could recommend.