Among the fantastic selection of complementary therapies available to people living with dementia is aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy is a great way to wind down and the luscious scents make you feel at the top of your game.

What is it?

Many people use aromatherapy as a means of promoting relaxation.

Using essential oils as part of a massage treatment or in the bathtub or on your pillow before bedtime as well as in oil burners at home, you can reap many benefits.

Aromatherapy can be used to help people with dementia feel more positive. It is not a cure for the disease, but can be adopted as a supplement to medical treatment.

The facts:

Although there is no conclusive evidence as to the specific benefits of aromatherapy for dementia, some small studies have alluded to positive effects.

For example, lemon balm has been shown to help cognition (ability to acquire knowledge).

Lavender oil can reduce aggression in people with dementia.

Other benefits include helping people get off to sleep, easing sinus problems and lowering stress.

What to look out for:

The various oils can differ in effect. Some can be rather strong and cause headaches. Others can irritate the skin, especially if the patient has a history of skin complaints.

It is important to make sure the patient is happy with the smell, so let them breathe in the scent on a tissue before commencing any treatment with the oil.

As smell is a very evocative sense, memories can be brought to the fore. This can prove positive or negative for the patient and is yet another reason why you have to test the scent with the patient first.

What are the most common oils used in aromatherapy?

There are many kinds of oils you can use in aromatherapy, all with different properties. Here are a few of the more common kinds:

Lemon Melissa balm – For better cognition and sleep

Lavender oil – For calming aggression and for improving sleep

Eucalyptus oil – To help the sinuses

Thyme oil – For a stimulating effect. Not ideal if you want to calm an agitated patient.