You may have heard about essential oils – natural aromatic compounds that are extracted from various parts of a plant, including the seed, bark, leaf, rind and/or flower. They are not a manufactured fragrance that you would find in products such as air fresheners, beauty products or candles, but are a natural derivative that are becoming more popular as consumers look for non-artificial ways to improve health, including emotional and physical wellbeing. For centuries, many cultures have used essential oils for their therapeutic properties and benefits.
According to an article from Alzheimers.net, “Essential oils have been used for generations to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety and insomnia. Some caregivers are now using these trusted oils to ease anxiety, boost memory and improve the mood of loved ones living with dementia.”
The article further explains that “while research on the effectiveness of essential oils is somewhat limited, some studies have shown aromatherapy can ease symptoms of anxiety, offer relief from symptoms of depression and improve the quality of life for people living with chronic health conditions.”
At the McCormick Day Program, we provide a variety of programs for sensory stimulation, including the use of essential oils. We educate our staff on the safe application and various ways these oils can be used for clients and caregivers and have purchased a variety of thoroughly tested, therapeutic-grade essential oils, complete with usage cue cards and kits. Different oils can generate calming or uplifting reactions, and we carefully monitor responses of those within our environment to ensure there are no adverse reactions. There are many different ways in which oils can be used, including via skin application, inhalation or ingestion, but our use at the day program is strictly limited to diffusing only high quality oils from our approved suppliers. We are also looking at future research opportunities related to the effects of essential oils and how they may contribute to improving sleep.
In our continuing goal to provide a healthy, safe and meaningful environment for those in our care, we look for non-pharmaceutical interventions whenever possible. We are pleased to the able to offer this option to those who are interested in this type of aromatherapy program. As we continue to explore their use, essential oils may become a key way to provide a healthier and happier environment for both clients and caregivers alike.
Submitted by Recreation Staff at McCormick Dementia Services.