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Alzheimer’s and Aromatherapy

Home Care San Diego caregiver putting aromatherapy oils on senior with alzheimer's disease hand

How a Holistic Treatment is Helping

Alzheimer’s disease remains the most common form of dementia in the United States.  There are currently 5.1 million Americans with the disease, with this figure expected to rise over the coming years due to the aging population.

It is a devastating illness that causes memory loss, confusion, and behavioral changes.  On average, people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s only survive for between eight to 10 years after being diagnosed.

Researchers are constantly looking for new ways to treat the disease or slow its progression.  One of the most interesting treatments being investigated by researchers is aromatherapy.  This article will take a closer look at how this holistic therapy may help to reduce the symptoms of this devastating disease.

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses aromatic plant oils (essential oils) or other types of aromatic compounds to change a person’s mood, cognition, physiology or psychological well-being.  Essential oils are usually heated to produce a fragrant aroma that is inhaled by the patient.

Proponents of aromatherapy suggest that the aroma of essential oils can affect the body’s olfactory system and limbic system.  They suggest that essential oils can be used to relieve stress, ease pain, enhance brain function, and help people relax.  Many essential oils can also be applied topically to treat skin conditions, burns and other ailments.  Aromatherapy has been practiced for thousands of years.

Aromatherapy and Alzheimer’s

In the past few years, researchers have started looking at the effect of aromatherapy on neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.  Some of the results have been quite positive and have surprised the scientists conducting the trials.

One recent study found that Alzheimer’s patients who were treated with aromatherapy slept better at night, were calmer during the day, had a higher level of contentment and were more alert.  They were treated with a solution containing mandarin, lavender, and geranium.

Other studies have found that a combination of lemon balm and lavender applied to the skin can reduce the irritability of Alzheimer’s patients.  Lavender is one of the essential oils known for having a calming effect.

Unfortunately, some Alzheimer’s patients lose their ability to smell, which may limit their ability to benefit from certain oils.  Scientists suspect that there may be some value to oils placed directly on the skin, but are still learning which oils can work well when applied topically.

A third study used a combination of rosemary oil and lemon oil in the morning, then orange and lavender oils in the evening.  The researchers noticed an improvement in cognition.

One major benefit of using aromatherapy is that essential oils have no serious side effects.  Unlike some pharmaceuticals, essential oils can safely be used on patients with any type of health condition.

Researchers suspect that lavender is particularly effective at soothing the agitation and irritability that many Alzheimer’s patients suffer from.  Some aged care facilities have even begun spraying lavender onto the pillows of residents to help them enjoy a calm and peaceful night’s rest.  They are also using citrus essential oils during the day to help Alzheimer’s patients become more alert.

Research is ongoing, but these recent studies point to some very positive outcomes from using aromatherapy to treat Alzheimer’s patients.

How Adult Home Health Care can help

Adult Home Health Care is an experienced home care provider operating in San Diego.  We provide dedicated, skilled, and professional caregivers to work in a client’s home.

Our caregivers can help clients with Alzheimer’s try aromatherapy techniques in their own home.  They will ensure that specific oils are applied at certain times of the day and purchase more oils for the home.  Clients can try aromatherapy to see if it helps them sleep better and feel more relaxed at night or be more alert during the day.

Other ways that our caregivers can help around the home include:

  • Assistance preparing meals in the home and grocery shopping
  • Brain health activities such as word puzzles, games, adult coloring, writing letters, and proverb exercises
  • Staying active with range of motion and exercises
  • General domestic duties like cleaning their kitchen, living room, bathroom, and bedroom
  • Assistance with personal hygiene tasks like showering, going to the bathroom and getting dressed
  • Providing transport for the client so they can attend doctor’s appointments and social engagements
  • Help with medication reminders

If you are interested in learning more about Adult Home Health Care, contact us today at 619-940-6561 for a free in-home consultation.