There are over 1.4 million people living in nursing homes, and as the population grows and ages that number will increase exponentially. With so many older adults in residential care, more and more nursing homes are turning to aromatherapy to increase quality of life. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/nursing-home-care.htm)
Aromatherapy can be a wonderful treatment for residents experiencing a wide variety of issues. In a nursing home, in particular, there can be problems with feelings of anxiety and depression.
Additionally so many people living in tight quarters can make it easy for illness to spread and essential oils can be used to prevent that. Lack of touch can also be a difficult issue for the elderly in nursing homes and aromatherapy used for massages can help provide touch and other therapeutic benefits.
Read on to learn some of the best uses of essential oils for this special population that deserves the best care available.
Pain Relief and Skincare
Essential oils provide a natural therapy for pain relief. Adding essential oils to massage oil and providing massages for residents can help reduce pain in the joints and muscles. It can also help moisturize and protect dry skin.
Oils can be adjusted for specific needs. For example if a resident has trouble with sleep and relaxation, lavender is the perfect essential oil to use. It is also gentle on the skin and can help with skin irritation.
But if a resident is experience more pain from arthritis and other inflammation, peppermint oil might be a better choice. It can also give energy to someone who feels fatigued.
Many older adults begin to have trouble with appetite. It’s important for seniors to eat regularly and maintain their weight as well as receive adequate nutrition. Essential oils such as ginger, oregano, and peppermint help to stimulate the appetite and can also help with nausea.
These can be added to lip balms or lotions or diffused into the air. Using a small diffuser oils can be diffused into one person’s room or into common areas to help everyone who passes through.
Stress and Anxiety
It can be very stressful for seniors to live in a nursing home environment. There is less autonomy, more noise, and sometimes a lot of loneliness. This is especially true for new residents.
Diffusing essential oils such as lavender and chamomile can help elderly to relax and calm anxiety. In particular this is helpful in the evening hours for dementia patients who tend to have more stress and anxiety in the evening hours.
Essential oils can also be used to clean areas of nursing homes without using harsh chemicals. Formulas designed to clean include lavender, lemon, clove, eucalyptus, rosemary, and cinnamon to help kill bacteria and viruses.
These can be used on surfaces such as furniture, sinks and countertops. But they can also be diffused into the common rooms to help keep germs at bay. This is especially useful during cold and flu season.