Aromatherapy is commonly used by therapists within the aged care system to gently support emotions, appetite, pain, immunity and more. It is a gentle way to not only create a pleasant smelling atmosphere, in settings that can feel clinical, but to also passively enhance the mood.
Utilising essential oils with people both very young and very old requires caution, but if used sparingly, and with careful consideration, their benefits can be outstanding.
Some oils we recommend for supporting the elderly include:
Rosemary oil - for memoryThis common garden herb has a long history in use as a herbal medicine for the brain and memory. It is often used to signify remembrance and can have a strong connection for older generations. Supporting the elderly with Rosemary oil can help with their memory and concentration, aiding their enjoyment of activities available to them. Try wearing it yourself to help spark recognition.
Eucalyptus oil - for immunityAs we age, our bodies become a little less able to fight infection, which is unfortunate as many older people find themselves in nursing homes... where infections can sometimes run rife. Obvious hygiene measures can be put in place for prevention, but considering boosting the individuals' immunity can take it a step further. Using Eucalyptus oil can support the immune system, help clear congestion and has an antimicrobial action, to keep nasties at bay.
Lavender oil - for sleep and relaxationInsomnia is an unfortunate condition amongst many elderly people, as is anxiety and agitation. Lavender oil has a sedative action which helps calm the nervous system, allowing a more peaceful state of mind. Lavender is commonly used in hand lotions and potpourri sachets, which can be a gentle and age appropriate way of incorporating aromatherapy in day to day life.
Orange oil - for appetiteInterest in food can wain as we advance in age. Our senses somewhat diminish and appetite dwindles. It is common for relatives to worry about the amount their loved ones are eating, which can be an indication of their general health. Essential oils vaporised before meal times can be a gentle and effective way of stimulating the appetite. Orange and other citrus oils can kick start the digestive process, in turn making the diner hungrier. Citruses also help create a bright and happy mood.
Frankincense oil - for respiratory supportA beautiful, unisex fragrance, Frankincense is a gentle and supportive oil that assists breathing. Respiratory conditions both chronic and post infection occur frequently in the ageing population so having this oil in your kit can be of great benefit. It's peaceful, grounding and nurturing properties are also of great use, and it's religious association can be of comfort to many.
How to use Aromatherapy for the Eldery:
- Use 5-10 drops of essential oil in an electric vaporiser. They are low heat and power, and do not use a candle, which makes it low risk.
- Add 0.5% to a cream or lotion. Use as a normal moisturiser for a gentle aromatherapeutic action.
- Use 1% in a carrier oil such as Apricot and perform a gentle and nurturing hand or foot massage. Touch and connection is so important for our ageing community.
- Apply a few drops to a tissue or hankie and place inside a pillow slip or pocket.
For more information on supporting your loved ones with essential oils, please contact an Aromatherapist.