Have you ever taken a deep breath and been reminded of a special moment in your life? Someone you love, a meaningful experience, or a place that carries deep meaning? Maybe the smell of fresh-cut lilacs reminds you of your mother, a gardener. Sitting at a gas pump, you may be reminded of your grandfather, who loved to work on cars. The smell of salt water transports you to a family vacation long ago, and you can almost hear the seagulls…
Our sense of smell can open doors to memories that lift us up, comfort us, and remind us to smile. For those with memory loss, smell can serve this purpose and so much more. Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being. The simple inhalation of specific scents can help remedy a broad range of negative emotions often experienced by those with memory loss.
For example, lavender is known as one of the most powerful and versatile scents and can be used to assist those experiencing anxiety, aggression, or agitation. The scent of a rose is the most potent treatment for apathy, and the list goes on. Below is a list of negative emotions, and the scents that can be used to help remedy them.
Bergamot, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Patchouli, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang
Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Lavender, Neroli, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood
Bergamot, Chamomile (Roman), Clary Sage, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang
Basil, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Ginger, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary, Sandalwood
Chamomile (Roman), Lavender, Mandarin, Sandalwood
Basil, Cypress, Lemon, Peppermint, Rosemary
Essential oils used for aromatherapy must be 100% pure and can often be irritating if applied directly to the skin. To safely and effectively absorb oils, mix them into lotions and smooth onto the skin or diffuse the oils into the air, where they can be absorbed by simply breathing. On a much smaller scale, different aromas can be achieved at home by purchasing over-the-counter lotions and body wash, massage oils and spices.
However you choose to reap the benefits of aromatherapy, be sure to check with your loved one’s physician to see if it is right for them.