How Aromatherapy Alleviates Alzheimer’s Symptoms

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Aromatherapy has been used by many different cultures for thousands of years for relieving anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Ancient Egyptians were known to use scents in body oils and perfumes. Recently, geriatric psychiatrist Alistair Burns explained that aromatherapy is also useful for minimizing the less-than-desirable symptoms commonly demonstrated by people with Alzheimer’s.

The Research

Scientists from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom revealed their findings in the British Medical Journal. During the study, people with Alzheimer’s were noticeably calmer after being exposed to a variety of essential oil aromas. The research explains that the oils contain substances known as terpenes, which are rapidly absorbed through the respiratory system. When the compound molecules pass through the lungs, they travel to the brain where they stimulate the limbic system. The brain region is responsible for regulating emotions, memory, vital signs, and hormone balance.

A group of Japanese researchers published a study in the December 2009 issue of Psychogeriatrics explaining their findings. For 28 days, seniors with Alzheimer’s were exposed to lemon and rosemary essential oils in the morning and a combination of lavender and orange aromas in the evening. The seniors were evaluated before and after the aromatherapy sessions using various types of Alzheimer’s assessment scales. The tests revealed that the affected adults demonstrated enhanced orientation and cognitive function.

Alzheimer’s disease can make daily life challenging aging adults and their families. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality senior care. Clearwater families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Beneficial Aromas

The University of Manchester study and others report that specific aromas benefit seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s: 

• Bergamot – The pleasant aroma of this orange-like citrus fruit alleviates agitation and anxiety while reducing stress. The calming effect of smelling bergamot can also be used to alleviate insomnia. 

• Ginger – The smell of this common spice has the ability to increase appetite. 

• Lavender – The scent of this common flower can calm agitated seniors. The aroma diminishes symptoms of anger, insomnia, and irritability while alleviating depression. Researchers from the Institute for Ageing and Health in Newcastle, United Kingdom, performed a study on the effects of aromatherapy. They found that placing sachets containing lavender flowers beneath the pillows of people with dementia enhanced their sleep patterns. Their findings were explained in The Journal of Quality Research in Dementia

• Lemon – The aroma of this citrus fruit is one of the most effective for calming and relaxing seniors with Alzheimer’s. Aging adults with dementia or Alzheimer’s may also experience enhanced memory after smelling lemon oil. 

• Peppermint – The smell of peppermint calms the nerves and stimulates various regions in the brain. 

• Rosemary – This fragrant herb has been shown to enhance cognition while elevating mood.

Even with the help of aromatherapy, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be difficult to manage. For some families, caring for a senior loved one can be overwhelming at times. Luckily, they can rely on professional respite care. Clearwater, FL, Home Care Assistance is a trusted name in respite and hourly care. Our caregivers are available around the clock to assist seniors with bathing, transportation, medication reminders, exercise, and much more, allowing families the time they need to focus on other important responsibilities or just take a break.

Aromatherapy Delivery Methods

There are several ways caregivers can implement aromatherapy. Essential oils can be emitted via diffusers. Combine the oils with body lotions or purchase lotions containing the desired fragrances. Scented candles are also a possibility. Create sachets using fresh herbs or flowers and place them under pillows or in areas frequented by seniors with Alzheimer’s.

If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care Clearwater, FL, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. To learn about our high-quality in-home Alzheimer’s care plans, give us a call at (727) 330-7862 today.