There is nothing more difficult than trying to calm the behaviors that moderate to end stage Alzheimer’s exhibit. Long-term care facilities have been working with person-centered care to meet the needs of the residents. After determining the origin of the behavior, aromatherapy works as a safe and gentle modality that is calming. Lavender oil has a chemical component – linalol – that is calming to the central nervous system. It is considered a very safe and effective oil to use with those who have dementia.
Besides being safe for the resident – Lavender is also safe for staff and visitors. It serves a secondary benefit to staff as it reduces symptoms of stress.
The program that is being instituted at The Alois Alzheimer Center encompasses general diffusion in the common areas. The oil blend to be diffused is equal parts of Lavender and Pink Grapefruit. The Lavender is calming and the Pink Grapefruit is emotionally up-lifting. Again, the staff benefits from these oils being diffused during the day.
Second phase of the program is a study of aromatherapy and sleep. Insomnia is a chronic problem for those with dementia. This study will use small room diffusers in the rooms of residents selected to participate. In the evening, a few drops of Lavender will be put on the felt pad that is slipped into the diffuser ball. Lavender is very effective for insomnia.
Then in the morning the Lavender felt pad will be replaced with a felt pad that has a few drops of Pink Grapefruit. This scent should gently wake up the resident.
Data on sleep is already collected by nursing. So there are no extra steps to record data for this study. Any insomnia or other night time disturbances will be noted. The study will last for eight weeks.
Final phase of the aromatherapy program will be custom blends to help residents with difficult behaviors calm down. I will put the custom blends together after looking at the resident’s chart and noting history, present and past diagnoses, allergies, and medications. This is to insure that the oils are not contraindicated for that resident.
Aromatherapy is a safe and gentle modality that can improve the resident’s quality of life.
(The aromatherapy program for The Alois Alzheimer Center is funded by The Alois Alzheimer Foundation, a 501(c)3 program wholly owned & operated by The Alois Alzheimer Center. This is part of the Alois Foundation’s mission to responsible research.)
Patricia Faust, MGS, CAt
Gerontologist/Brain Health Specialist
Certified Clinical Aromatherapy
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