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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

Anxiety, Dementia and Aromatherapy

Anxiety is commonly found in patients with dementia. It’s no wonder. Their body and mind is changing and they often are confused about what is happening. A feeling of no longer being in control powers their anxious behavior. Lack of a feeling on control has been cited as the #1 reason people experience stress and anxiety.

When The Sun Goes Down

For many patients, this happens later in the day. For some reason as the sun goes down anxiety rises. There are a number of theories as to why this may happen. Regardless of the cause it happens a lot.

As the sun lowers on the horizon, someone with dementia may become angry and agitated. They may begin crying uncontrollably. While others simply require a lot more attention and seem more confused that normal. This is called Sundowning. Ask anyone who has cared for someone with dementia and they will know the term. While not everyone suffers from sundowning, a lot of people with dementia do.

Anxiety Doesn’t Just Affect The Dementia Patient

Furthermore, caregivers are often subject to feelings of anxiety. Caregivers too, often feel out of control. They often do not know what to do or how to calm the dementia patient. Caregivers are prone to worry. It’s no surprise they usually have a lot on their plate.

A Gentle Approach to Help Caregivers and Dementia Sufferers

According to Wikipedia : Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well-being. A UK study of psychiatric patients diagnosed with anxiety and depressive disorders found that aromatherapy, combined with massage, reduced anxiety and improved mood over a six-month period of use. Aromatherapy is a gentle approach that can help both the dementia patient and the caregiver.

Easy To Use

The oils are easy to use. They may be diffused into the air, added to bath water or put in a lotion to massage gently into the skin. Use almond oil or an unscented lotion and add your own essential oils. A little goes a long way. I think a combination of adding the scent to the air in a diffuser and also a nice hand or foot massage with the aromatherapy lotion is a great way to bring a sense of calm. And calm is what we are striving for, right?

Less Is More

Be careful of the amounts of oil you use. Too much could have the opposite effects according to a study by the European Society of Cardiology. Exposure of more than an hour may cause anxiety levels to rise.

So What Oils Do You Use?

Lavender Essential Oil is Probably the most popular. Relatively inexpensive and a scent most people enjoy this oil has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety. A study published in the National institute of Health found that Lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol. Cortisol rises when someone in suffering stress and anxiety.

But there are many other oils that have benefits also. Clary Sage, Bergamot, Sweet Orange, and Angelica top the list. Try several and maybe even switch them up a bit.

In conclusion, aromatherapy is a simple, effective and easy way to bring a little more peace and calm into your day. Doesn't it make sense to try?

Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.

Give us a call today and come for a tour. 281-282-0770

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