Aromatherapy Benefits and Uses for Memory Care

If you’re caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of memory loss, utilizing a variety of holistic treatments is a great memory care technique for managing some behavioral symptoms and promoting well-being for your loved one. Holistic treatments, including aromatherapy, art and music therapy and more, aim not to just relieve physical symptoms, but also to promote mental and emotional wellness. Aromatherapy is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but it can help you as you seek to provide the highest quality of life as possible for your loved one.

According to Diane Reier, Lifestyle Specialist at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, a senior living community in Prospect Heights, “Aromatherapy helps those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss by enhancing their mood or providing comfort. Certain smells can create a sense of calm or boost their energy. While it may not be a singular solution to the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s, aromatherapy has been proven to help manage challenging behaviors such as anxiety, agitation, sleep problems and more.”

Aromatherapy Benefits for Alzheimer’s

Aromatherapy has been used for centuries for a wide variety of health benefits, utilizing plants and natural elements to relieve common ailments. Today, this kind of therapy is most commonly applied with essential oils. Research is limited on the effects of aromatherapy on dementia patients, but many studies have proven the therapy’s ability to relieve several Alzheimer’s symptoms.

According to the Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy works by employing smell receptors to stimulate the part of the brain that controls emotions. It has been shown to relieve symptoms such as anxiety and depression and positively affect the quality of life for those with chronic illnesses like Alzheimer’s. Certain essential oils might even be able to stimulate cognitive functioning and memory for some individuals with memory loss.

Aromatherapy can be beneficial for caregivers as well. The stress of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease can impact your emotional and physical health, as well as sleep, all of which could be improved through aromatherapy.

Common Essential Oils for Memory Care

A number of essential oils are helpful in easing the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the article “Manage Dementia’s Side Effects with These 7 Essential Oils,” author Alissa Sauer suggests several useful oils for aromatherapy and how they can help caregivers improve their loved one’s quality of life.

  • Lavender – Has a calming effect and helps balance strong emotions. Helps with depression, anger and irritability.
  • Peppermint – Works as an energizer. Can be used to simultaneously stimulate the mind while calming nervousness.
  • Rosemary – Energizes and stimulates the mind. May improve cognitive function and mood.  Can ease depression symptoms and reinvigorate the appetite.
  • Bergamot – Elevates mood by relieving stress, agitation, anxiety and depression.
  • Lemon Balm – Calms and relaxes anxiety, improves memory and eases indigestion.
  • Ylang Ylang – Eases depression and promotes good sleep.
  • Ginger – Promotes good eating habits by treating loss of appetite, constipation and digestion issues.

These essential oils and others can be used and combined to offer relief from Alzheimer’s symptoms. Although they are considered relatively safe for normal use, the FDA does not regulate essential oils. Before trying aromatherapy, talk to a doctor about possible allergies to oils or interactions with medications. 

In addition to essential oils, you can provide aromatherapy by using objects with familiar or meaningful smells to stimulate memories and bring comfort. Oranges may bring back memories of childhood, or a favorite quilt may still hold the smell of a beloved home. Helping your loved one complete a favorite family recipe can produce pleasant aromas while allowing your loved one to reminisce and accomplish a meaningful activity.

Aromatherapy Techniques for a Loved One at Home

Aromatherapy can be applied in different ways, each with their own benefit of convenience or sensory care. Common applications include:

  • Misting – Mix essential oils and water and use a spray bottle or an air diffuser to disperse the oils to the air.
  • Inhalation – Place a few drops of oil onto a tissue and inhale through the nose.
  • Compress – Stir a few drops of oil into a bowl of warm or cool water, wet a cloth and apply the infused cloth to the skin.
  • Bath or Foot Bath – Add a few drops of oil to a warm bath or provide a foot soak or massage.
  • Body Oil – After a bath or shower, apply purchased body oil (or essential oil mixed with carrier oil) to the skin.
  • Massage – Using body oil or infused lotion, provide a gentle massage to the skin and muscles.

Be careful to use essential oils as directed. If you are applying oils directly to the skin, always dilute the oils with water, lotion or neutral body oil.

Memory Care for the Whole Person

Aspired Living's groundbreaking memory care program emphasizes a whole-person approach to care,” says Reier. “Our caregivers or family members may utilize aromatherapy for our residents with Alzheimer’s disease for the treatment’s emotional benefits. Often, holistic treatments can help our residents and team members form an even stronger connection.”

If you would like to know more about A Knew Day Memory Care at Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights, contact us today to learn how we take special care of our residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of memory loss.

We Would Love to Hear from You!

If you have comments or questions about our blog, we’d love to hear from you. We also welcome you to share any caregiving insights or experiences in our comments section.

Live Well. Age Well. Be Well.

Offering Independent, Assisted Living and A Knew Day Memory Support, Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights is a distinctive senior living community designed to offer seniors residing in the Chicago Northwest Suburbs area a fresh alternative to “typical” senior living communities.

Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights provides residents with the ideal balance of personalized support, dignified privacy and enhanced independence complemented by luxurious amenities and our life-enriching, award-winning VIVA!SM programming by Pathway to Living®.

Managed by Pathway to Living®, an innovator in senior living, Aspired Living® offers the choice of a private studio or a one- or two-bedroom apartment and the beauty of a brand new community, stunningly appointed and decorated for unsurpassed comfort and style by the award-winning senior living design firm, Thoma-Holec Design, Inc.

For more information, please call Diane at 847-243-6920.

Disclaimer: The articles and tip sheets on this website are offered by Aspired Living® of Prospect Heights for general informational and educational purposes and do not constitute legal or medical advice. For legal or medical advice, please contact your attorney or physician.