By Zenab Ishtay,
Aromatherapist and Cosmetologist,
Several essential oils are proving effective for relieving symptoms of dementia, such as problems with memory, behaviour, mood and sleep. For someone with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia, smell has the strongest and most direct connection to memory.
Dementia is not a specific disease. It’s a group of symptoms that can affect thinking, memory, reasoning, personality, mood and behaviour. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and often starts five, ten or even 20 years before symptoms appear. Symptoms usually begin with difficulty remembering new information. In advanced stages, symptoms include confusion, mood and behavioural changes and an inability to care for oneself
Scent, emotion and memory
In previous articles, I wrote about how essential oils can influence the brain’s Limbic System, which controls all aspects of our emotions and memories. Alzheimer’s disease puts people in a state where they cannot remember their family; they may not even remember who they are. Even if a person with Alzheimer’s doesn’t consciously remember a scent, the brain’s Limbic System will recognise that scent or something in it is related to a happy moment.
Essential oils provide a link to certain parts of the brain connected to attention and concentration. These scents evoke happy memories, connect the smell with loved ones, family events, places the person with Alzheimer’s visited, or relate to memories of childhood.
You can support your loved one with Alzheimer’s by using essential oils when they are irritated or anxious. You can also use food, perfume, flowers, spices and so on.
The power of touch
Communicating with someone who has become a stranger, even to themselves, may seem like an impossible task, but physical contact is capable of stimulating closeness. A gentle massage on the shoulders, hands or feet, using essential oils with aromas the person experienced in the past, helps awaken memories. The power of touch and scent is remarkable, with the potential to reduce agitation, ease physical discomfort and promote sleep.