Aromatherapy Improves Days (And Nights) of Alzheimer’s Patients The article below details the experiences Pat Bishop R.N. has had with formula’s for Alzheimer’s. Liona Shareing CMT (of Maui Bliss Spa) is a Master Aromatherapist specializing in creating custom formulas for your needs. “Patients have rejoined their lives,” said Pat Bishop, R. N., Supervisor in Alzheimer’s Unit for Mattie C. Hall Health Care Center in Aiken, South Carolina. “A number of them have been weaned completely from psychotropic drugs.”
One patient stopped chasing nurses with his wheelchair. Others stopped moving aimlessly around the room, talking or even screaming into the air. They sit quietly, doing activities assigned to them. The air smells clean and relaxing. You would not know it was an Alzheimer’s unit in a senior center in late afternoon, the time of day most patients would be restless and unhappy. wheelchair_senior Blends of essential oils, used for centuries as natural treatments, are responsible for the improvements.
In a monitored and documented study, special blends of the oils used at certain times of the day improved appetites; all but stopped “sun-downing” which results in increased noise and disruptive behaviors in the early evening– decreased pain and insomnia; and stimulated short-term memory so that patients could enjoy activities. The blends were developed by Jackie Farnell of Scents-ible Solutions® in response to a request by Bishop to perform a one-year experiment with the oils. Bishop had heard Farnell describe the beneficial effects of essential oils and wanted to know whether they could improve life in a nursing home setting.
Bishop chose the Alzheimer’s unit because it was a closed environment in which residents had clearly identifiable needs. Bishop outlined four problem areas: 1) loss of appetite and weight loss; 2) depression and sun-downing; 3) insomnia and pain that did not respond to medications; 4) inability to concentrate in one-on-one work requiring short-term memory. A fifth challenge was presented on behalf of the staff. Could Farnell create a blend that would help relieve stress, anxiety and lethargy among the caregivers? Aromatherapy works with the body’s own systems, Farnell said. “Essential oils, which are the lifeblood of plants, enter the olfactory system in a direct link to the limbic system in the brain, where emotion and memory are located.” The resulting therapies had immediate effects. When instituted, some patients were averaging a weight loss of three or more pounds per month. Forty percent of patients showed decreased rates of weight loss in the first month. “People who had never been interested in food were asking when it would be time to eat,” Bishop said. Sixty percent of the residents began to gain weight by the seventh month. The name given to the blend used to stimulate appetite is “Appetite Stimulant.” It contains all-natural essential oils of grapefruit and clove. With the diluted blend sprayed onto the clothing protector before mealtime, residents became alert and ready to eat.
Blends created to address the other challenges proved equally effective. “Restore Peace”, a blend of grapefruit and frankincense oils, quiets a noisy, nervous room of patients. “The oils increase the effectiveness of the medications. As behavior improves, physicians can reduce the dosage. Many become titrated off the medicines,” Bishop said. “We don’t make these decisions. The doctors do.” “Helps Relieve Insomnia & Pain “, is a blend of lavender and bergamot, releases seratonins and endorphins. These decrease the perception of pain and encourage sleep. The most dramatic result of using this blend is the effectiveness in reducing falls. This problem is directly linked to night time wanderings and day time instability due to lack of a sound sleep. We also find that the elders are asking for essential oils for pain in place of medications which cause drowsiness.
“Promote Alertness”, rosemary and orange, helps patients stay alert for activities and rehabilitation. “Care Giver Relief”, was created to encourage creativness, clarity and alertness. The blend is orange, cinnamon, lemon and ylang ylang. Absenteeism among staff has decreased, patients are more comfortable, and the number of patients using psychotropic medications has decreased dramatically, at times by 100 percent. When this happens, they become more social and more willing and able to participate in their daily lives, Bishop said. Farnell adds that the oils diffused into the air or placed by droplets onto hankies, ribbons, pillowcases or any number of other media. “The antibacterial effect of essential oils is strong,” she said. “There are fewer communicable diseases such as colds, flu’s and viruses. Also, when the air smells good, family members are more likely to visit, which comforts the patient and gives relief to the caregivers.” Farnell’s special blends are used in more than 450 nursing homes and over 1000 private homes. She has spoken at local, state & national conferences plus private and public organizations concerned with gerontology, nursing home care, and treatments for Alzheimer’s. Liona Shareing has 22 years of experience as an Aromatherapist and creates customized Organic Aromatherapy Blends, located in North County San Diego 760-453-2816