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Can Aromatherapy Support Dementia Patients?

Posted by Andrew Irvine on

Dementia is one of those conditions that makes us all a little anxious. It tends to strike older people, and for the patient and their family, it can be very distressing. One of the key reasons it makes people feel quite nervous about it happening to them or their loved ones is because there have been no major medical breakthroughs. It tends to be a life sentence with little or no way to halt the progress. Patients and loved ones tend to turn to alternative medicine, not seeking a miracle cure but simply looking for ways to support the patient and perhaps slow the progress a little. This is where aromatherapy can be used, and for some people, the reports have been very positive indeed. 

 

What is Dementia?

 

Dementia is a diagnosis that represents a changing for the worse in the function of cognitive functionality. Patients may experience problems with their memory and remembering things they previously knew with ease. Thinking and reasoning can also be affected and people might notice behaviour changes in a person with dementia. In the early stages, a person may just be frustrated with their inability to perform as sharply as possible but as the disease progresses they may become lost to the outside world, forgetting friends and family, which is deeply distressing for all. 

 

How Can Aromatherapy Help?

 

It is actually an area that has received significant interest from those studying the benefits of aromatherapy. In Japan, there has been progress with scientists using plants to improve memory, and in a separate study carried out in 2012, it was shown that rosemary is an excellent oil for helping improve the cognitive function of healthy people. Therefore it can be assumed that it might enhance the brain function of those in early-stage dementia. 

 

Rosemary seems to be the key oil that gets picked up in many studies as an essential oil that supports the function of the brain, so it would be perhaps an excellent oil to distil around the patient. Keeping safety in mind, it would be best to use an electric diffuser that will automatically cut out once the water has been evaporated.  

 

Frustration and Agitation 

 

Unsurprisingly this is a common problem for dementia patients; one can only assume how difficult it must be to find your brain failing. This is another area that has shown positive benefits when essential oils have been trialled. In this case, you are looking for oils that have known calming properties. Lavender is a good oil and can be combined with lemon balm and bergamot to create a natural stress and agitation reliever. Again this can be defused around the room, or if that patient is willing, used in massage oil which will also further calm a stressed body.  

 

While this is by no means a cure to such a complex condition it makes an enormous difference to families if they can be doing something proactive to support their loved ones, and for the patient, it could at least provide some relief from the relentless symptoms they experience,