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Dementia and Aromatherapy

The third in our series of Aromatherapy Awareness Week blogs from Helen Buckley, owner of Revive All looks at how aromatherapy can be used in dementia care.

Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy that uses essential oils and plants to improve a person’s wellbeing. In the case of Dementia, aromatherapy is being used more commonly to ease symptoms such as anxiety and depression.

For people living with dementia the uncertainty and progression of the illness can create symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, increased agitation and decreased sleep. Aromatherapy may be able to help ease these symptoms. The most common methods of use are through massage, inhalation or application through creams or lotions.

Some studies have shown mixed results in determining if Aromatherapy oils on their own are beneficial. There seems to be some benefit in using a combination of massage and aromatherapy, further suggesting that the treatment plan for each person with Dementia needs to be as individual as the person it is for.

I have listed below a few oils that could be used for people with Dementia.

Lavender, is a common oil used to calm and balance emotions. It reduces cortisol, the stress hormone and can ease agitation during the night giving a good night’s rest. It can be inhaled, used in massage or in a spray to mist the person’s pillow at night. I have discovered a few people that have negative memory associations with this oil, so do be aware.

Lemon Balm, can help reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia. It can be used as a tea or applied to the skin through massage or a lotion.

Bergamot is one of my favourite oils to uplift spirits while calming anxiety, depression and stress related conditions. It can be used again through massage or in a spray on linen.

Ginger, I have included Ginger as it is a useful in the relief of digestive problems. It settles the stomach and can also increase appetite. It is a warming oil so helpful when feeling the cold or lethargic and nervous. Herbal teas including ginger or massage using ginger essential oil are both effective delivery methods.

Peppermint is a useful herb and oil in its range of properties. While the ingestion of essential oils is not recommended herbal teas can be used instead. It is used for digestive problems and has been used for pain relief. It can be used to uplift and stimulate in a morning.

Rosemary is the last useful oil. It tends to be more of a stimulating oil that can revive the senses and activate the brain so is beneficial for cognitive function. It can be used for pain relief within muscles and joints. Use is mainly through inhalation.

If you have any questions on the use of aromatherapy with Dementia please do contact a qualified aromatherapist or I can be contacted on

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