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How Aromatherapy Can Benefit Memory Care Residents

Using aromatherapy to energize, relax, and heal has become increasingly popular in recent years. Sales of essential oils, diffusers, and more have skyrocketed, and more and more people are looking to a more holistic approach to wellness using avenues like aromatherapy. However, did you know that aromatherapy is also becoming increasingly popular in retirement communities and other senior living centers?

Using aromatherapy practices is an easy, time-efficient and cost-effective way to try something new in your holistic health routine. It doesn’t take a lot of time or money to get started, and once you begin, you’ll find that it truly helps calm your mind and body. Because of this, senior communities like Serra Sol’s Alzheimer’s care in San Juan Capistrano have adopted the practice more and more. 

But how does aromatherapy work, exactly? Here are a few things you should know about working with aromatherapy:

Getting to Know the Basics About Aromatherapy

In short, aromatherapy uses scent (hence the name aromatherapy) to trigger certain receptors in the brain. These receptors can affect many different aspects of your mind and can help to alleviate symptoms that can come from emotional distress. 

Essential oils are derived from natural resources like plants, flowers, herbs, and trees. When people use aromatherapy as an emotional aid, they can do so in many ways: topically, ingestion, or inhalation. Inhalation through usage of lotions, oils, and diffusers is the most popular method of using aromatherapy. 

Aromatherapy can provide many benefits including: relaxation, reduction of inflammation, eased depression symptoms, stress reduction, and better sleep. With all of these incredible usages, it’s easy to see why aromatherapy has grown in popularity with older adults, including those of us here involved with Alzheimer’s care in San Juan Capistrano. 

How Memory Care Residents Can Benefit from Aromatherapy

While there is no cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s, research has shown that there are many ways to combat the symptoms of these terrible diseases. The use of aromatherapy is one of them. 

Better Sleep Quality 

Aromatherapy does not target the root cause of these illnesses. What aromatherapy can do, however, is ease the symptoms that are brought on by Alzheimer’s and dementia like those listed above. Seniors struggle with many daily tasks that people take for granted, like clarity in our day to day lives and a good night’s rest. Seniors who struggle with Alzheimer’s and dementia have an even tougher battle ahead of them. 

Promotes Relaxation 

Agitation and anger due to memory loss and confusion is a major symptom of these two awful illnesses. Several different essential oils, like lavender, bergamot, and lemon, are actually proven to calm memory care residents and help to soothe their agitation. It’s the same concept as if you were to suck on a peppermint before a big test: it’s a way to help curb the anxiety

Trigger Positive Memories

In fact, your sense of smell is one of your most powerful senses and is often used to strike up a memory. Speaking of the peppermint analogy, if you were to suck on a peppermint every night while studying the material for the test, and then enjoy a peppermint as your teacher handed out papers, you’d be more likely to remember the information that you studied as you’d associate it with the peppermint smell and taste. 

The same can be said for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Smells can trigger long-forgotten memories, and several studies show that aromatherapy produces significant cognitive improvement in seniors who struggle with these diseases. While it may not cure your loved ones, a small improvement is better than none at all!

A bottle of essential oils with lavender

The Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy for Your Senior Loved One

Not all aromatherapy is created alike, and there are some essential oils that are going to be better to use than others. Additionally, some are more easily accessible – and affordable – than others. Here are some you should consider adding to your aromatherapy rotation:


Typically associated with calmness and relaxation, lavender helps to ease anxiety and, as a result, helps to curb angry and agitated outbursts. Lavender is also perfect for sleep assistance. Spray a bit on your senior loved one’s pillow to help send them right to sleep. 


Rosemary essential oils are designed to stimulate the mind. This essential oil is amazing for improving cognitive function and memory. 


A bright and clean scent, lemon helps to ease the mind and promote good relaxation. Lemon is also known to help ease indigestion if ingested. Pair lemon essential oil with bergamot essential oil in a diffuser, and the room will smell bright and freshly cleaned.


Bergamot is another citrusy oil that’s similar to lemon. This essential oil is an amazing tool to add to your arsenal to help treat stress and anxiety. Diffuse this essential oil in a room or dilute it to make into a pillow or clothing spray to help reduce your senior’s stress and sleep a bit more easily.


Like rosemary, peppermint is a stimulant. This strong, bright scent is best used in a diffuser or as a bright, Christmas-scented room spray. The wonderful thing about peppermint is, since it already comes in sweet candy treats, you can get a touch of the same effects by sucking on a peppermint.

This list is not comprehensive, and as you begin your aromatherapy journey, you’re sure to find other essential oils or techniques that work best for you. If you are looking for the basics, this is a great place to start. 

Adding New Techniques to Alzheimer’s Care in San Juan Capistrano

Whether you’re hoping to add aromatherapy treatment in your own home or are doing a bit of research for a loved one, knowing what kind of benefits aromatherapy can truly bring to the table is eye-opening. Our staff here at Serra Sol only wants the best for your loved one, whether it’s trying out aromatherapy here in Alzheimer’s care in San Juan Capistrano or getting up and moving with a wellness specialist. 

If you’re interested in seeing everything that Serra Sol can bring to the table, contact us and schedule a tour today!