Aromatherapy for the elderly

Aromatherapy, as the name suggests, is a healing procedure using natural aromatic oils derived from plants. This alternative therapy technique pleases the senses, and is therefore enjoyable.

The oils used for aromatherapy, are quite concentrated and fragrant. The essence is distilled from flowers, leaves or root of a plant. Each essential oil serves a specific purpose. For example, oil derived from rose or lavender is used to calm, relax and rejuvenate a person. It can also reduce depression, alleviate pain, remove congestion, and heal stiff joints or muscles.

Aromatherapy can be performed using a variety of techniques. The essential oils can be added to bath water or mixed with water and applied to the skin. Oils can be diluted with other mild oils and used for body massage. Oils can also be used in air sprays for creating a fragrant environment. It is best to dilute oils before use on elderly citizens, since their skin is more sensitive and frail, taking special care to avoid oils that can cause irritation. Aromatherapy oils should never be consumed internally, since most oils are toxic in nature.

Aromatherapy is believed to relax the brain, renew memory and generate pleasant emotions. If an elderly person is in a state of anxiety or stress, his perception of pain will be much higher than when he enters the state of relaxation and pleasure. Thus, aromatic oils can help nullify the pain, or atleast reduce its intensity.

Following is a list of aromatherapy essential oils, and their contribution to mood change and pain relief for elderly citizens.

  • Lemongrass – Lemongrass is known to have refreshing and toning effect, and can act as an analgesic having painkilling properties. It also has antidepressant and antiseptic properties. The aroma of lemongrass is sweet and citrus in nature, and is mainly used to treat stress, joint pain, muscle soreness, loss of appetite and fatigue.
  • Ylang Ylang – Ylang Ylang is known to relax and stimulate the skin, body and mind. It also has antidepressant, antiseptic and sedative properties. The aroma is sweet, floral and exotic, and is mainly used for reducing anxiety, stress and high blood pressure. Since Ylang Ylang can irritate the skin, it should be avoided if suffering from skin disease. Ylang Ylang might cause headaches if not diluted.
  • Peppermint – Peppermint is known to refresh and stimulate the senses, and has fresh, strong, menthol-like aroma. It is known for its astringent, analgesic, antispasmodic, antiseptic and decongestant properties. It can be used for treating headaches, asthma, joint and muscle pain, indigestion and tooth aches.
  • Rose – Rose is known to relax and pleasure the senses. It has a warm floral aroma. Rose oil is known for its antiseptic, antidepressant, astringent, antibacterial, antispasmodic and sedative properties. It is best used on aging, sensitive or dry skin. Rose oil can treat headaches, depression, insomnia and stress and heal broken veins.

Certain essential oils should be avoided when the elderly person is suffering from diseases such as cancer, heart problems, skin disease etc. Therefore, consult an aromatherapy expert before using any essential oils at home.

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