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7 essential oils to help soothe seniors and how to use them

Cathy Schutt | Mar 19, 2021

Aromatherapy smallerAt Walker Methodist, we believe in holistic healthcare and enriching the lives of our residents and patients. Seniors at our communities, including the Walker Methodist Health Center in Minneapolis, benefit from alternative interventions, such as aromatherapy, guided imagery, and healing touch to reduce the need for unnecessary medications. Our team integrates essential oils into daily routines for residents and patients. The benefits of essential oils can include include increased calmness, reduction of anxiety, more restful sleep, and improved mood.

What is aromatherapy, and how does it work?

Aromatherapy in Seniors and Senior Living

Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic essential oils for sensory and therapeutic benefits. 

As we age, we might lose our sense of smell. But aromatherapy is not dependent on our sense of smell. Molecules still travel through the nasal passage to the limbic system, and the results are the same whether or not one can actually smell the oil. The limbic system supports a variety of functions, including emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and olfaction.

How can essential oils be used to help soothe seniors?

Below are four ways Walker Methodist incorporates aromatherapy into routines to bring peace to residents and patients. 

1. Diffusers

A diffuser is commonly used in resident and patient rooms. The device uses distilled water and a few drops of an essential oil, turning the liquid oil into a cold vapor and dispersing it into the air. Research has shown that diffusion has the greatest results for those with Alzheimer's and dementia.  It has also been shown to improve mood and short-term memory.

2. Linen spray

Linen spray can be used on a cloth item in a resident's environment. Typically, spray is used before bedtime by misting sheets or pillowcases to aid in a peaceful, calming night's sleep.

3. Felt patch

Essential oils can be placed directly on a patch and attached to an article of clothing (no skin contact).

4. Clay necklace

Essential oils are placed directly on a pendant. Pendants or other aromatherapy jewelry can be made or purchased; there are many options!

7 essential oils to use and why

Below are seven essential oils to use to help promote wellbeing for seniors, as well as benefits they may provide.

1. Lemon

  • Energizing and purifying
  • Brings energy to a room
  • Stimulating, also decreases fatigue and promotes appetite

2. Lavender

  • Calming and relaxing, decreasing general discomfort
  • Brings peace to a room and calms anxiety
  • Helps with sleep

3. Peppermint

  • Eases motion sickness and nausea
  • Bring balance to a room, energizing
  • Relieves tension and ease pain, decreases mental fatigue

4. Bergamot

  • Eases pain, aids in digestion
  • Energizing, uplifts the spirit
  • Moderates depression or anxiety

5. Orange

  • Energizing and purifying, combats unpleasant odors
  • Moderates depression or anxiety, uplifts the spirit
  • Aids in digestion

6. Roman Chamomile

  • Calming, relieves pain
  • Decreases irritability and stress, balances mood and tension
  • Relaxes the nervous system and helps digestion

7. Marjoram

  • Eases pain, relieves headaches
  • Calming, brings balance to a room
  • Eases muscle aches

Using essential oils, including aromatherapy, is just the beginning. The Health Center at Walker Methodist offers additional integrated therapies for patient and resident wellness. If you or your loved one could benefit from these integrated therapies, don't hesitate to contact us today.

To support these programs for residents, consider supporting us financially today.