tips combating dementia symptoms essential oils

Dementia, a mental disorder that affects our loved ones as they age, is a serious and heartbreaking condition that touches an estimated 1 in 9 individuals over 65. It is the result of a degeneration of the brain cells and can manifest itself in a number of ways including memory loss.

The disease is not a straightforward diagnosis; dementia is an umbrella term that encompasses several symptoms and mental issues. For example, Alzheimer's is one form dementia can take. Those who have it struggle to remember, to communicate, or to express themselves.

Watching dementia take hold of those we love can be terrifying. We feel there's nothing we can do to help, and yet we want to be of service. While we stock up on incontinence medical supplies, we also want to find everyday, holistic treatments to help those we love. Luckily for us, there is one alternative option that is accessible and easy: essential oil therapy.

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A Breakdown of Dementia

Dementia shows itself in myriad ways. Symptoms come on gradually and count as dementia if the patient exhibits two or more of the mental problems associated with the disease.

Memory Changes

One of the earliest signs is shifts in memory. Your elderly relative may be able to recount lots of details from an event that took place years ago but have no idea what happened yesterday or early this morning. They may confuse Thursday for Tuesday, show up for appointments on the wrong day or forget what they had planned for the afternoon.

Struggles to Speak and Listen

A person who has dementia will need extra time to have a conversation. They will have a hard time finding the word or phrase they want to express an idea or relay past events. Their minds get a kind of fog that hides the words they want to say and won't clear until they've struggled to talk for a few seconds or even minutes. They will require a lot more patience than we may be used to and a lot more understanding.

It is also difficult for anyone experiencing dementia to follow a long story. If you want to explain something that has happened, try to keep your explanations short, one or two sentences at the most. Too many details or too long of a story will frustrate your loved one or make them tune out.

Mood, Emotions, and Other Struggles

One of the most evident symptoms of dementia is a change in mood. As cells in the brain degenerate, judgement and cognitive function can become impaired. For example, a normally shy or sweet person may become brash or much more outgoing. They could be much angrier or become very apathetic and stop caring altogether.

Depression can be a big problem for those with dementia. They can feel themselves changing and feel powerless to stop the spiral of events. It's also the result of a shift in the levels of serotonin, less exercise, and worse sleep.

Your family member may also become restless and feel they have no direction throughout the day or feel anxious, even angry about what's happening to them.

essential oils aromatherapy spa

Essential Oils and How They Can Help

Many people have reached out to alternative treatments to help those in their family who are suffering from a variety of ailments. We all want to step in and relieve the depression, anxiety, and frustration our aging loved one is feeling and essential oils have proven to be effective for aiding in reducing these secondary symptoms.

Please do not look to oils as a cure for dementia, but rather as a way to give your loved one a break from some of the overwhelming daily struggles it brings. Certain oils are highly effective in helping those we care about feel better and improve their day-to-day life. Most importantly, they give us a new way to interact — through touch and the intention to heal.

A Note about Carrier Oils and Safety

Essential oils have potent aromas and can be overpowering when used directly. Therefore, it is recommended they be used either very sparingly or mixed with a carrier oil. A carrier oil is any high quality oil that is safe for the skin and can let the scent of the essential oil shine through.

Common carrier oils include almond, jojoba, grapeseed, extra virgin olive oil, or flaxseed oil. You can also use argon, arnica, grapefruit seed, or magnesium oil.

It is also a good idea to do a skin patch test on anyone receiving a massage or treatment involving oils. Dab a little on the hand or arm and then wait to see if the skin reacts in a rash or becomes itchy. If so, change carriers and essential oil.

hands holding lavender sprigs

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Used as a tummy tonic, ginger is a warming scent that has been used for numerous problems, digestion included. It can also stimulate the appetite and help keep the stomach calm. This can be a real boon to anyone struggling with irritable bowel syndrome, any kind of incontinence or nausea and vomiting.

Ginger has another great use for anyone struggling with dementia: mental clarity and focus. Ginger can help clear the fog that floats around the head of a patient and give them a chance to have better conversations and recall more menial details.

How to Use it

Ginger can be applied directly to the skin over the heart, without dilution, in one or two drops. It can also be rubbed directly on aching muscles, again using only a few drops. Add three to seven drops to hot, boiled water in a big bowl and then inhale it with a towel draped over the head. Eyes should be closed to keep them safe during this activity.

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Unlike ginger, ylang-ylang is not a stimulant but rather a mood regulator. It can help to soothe, relax, and regulate the pulse. Use some ylang-ylang oil at the end of the day as opposed to in the morning, as it is meant to help with sleep and quieting the mind.

Ylang-ylang has a beautiful floral scent and is featured in perfumes around the world. It also thickens the hair when added to shampoo and conditioner, helps with inflammation, and is excellent for heart health. It can help us sleep as well as combat negative emotions like jealousy or anxiety.

ylang ylang essential oil benefits

How to Use it

Mix ylang-ylang with coconut oil in a 1:1 ratio and then apply it to the skin as a massage oil. Conversely, dab undiluted drops onto your wrists and neck for a little energy and positivity. Inhale it directly from the bottle for a boost or use it as a scent around the house with the help of a spray. Mix about ten drops with filtered water in a spray bottle and then spritz it wherever it can be enjoyed.

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Made from a special hybrid citrus fruit, bergamot is an oil of many talents. You may recognize it from Earl Grey tea, a black tincture that uses a little fruit for a unique, sharp flavor.

Bergamot is known to help soothe the stomach and help relieve gas. It is great in a rub to help reduce joint and muscle pain. It is also known to be highly effective against stress, depression, and general mood elevation. A little bit of bergamot can change one's outlook on life, work to harmonize the systems in the body, and even help clear up oily skin.

If you're out oil shopping, don't skip this one. This is an excellent oil for anyone who needs a little help getting through the day.

How to Use it

Rub two to three drops between the palms and then inhale the scent to combat depression. Breathe in the aroma slowly to get the most out of the scent. If this is too much, rub a few drops on the feet or abdomen. It can also be used in an oil burner around the house to keep up energy and push depression out of anyone's space.

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spa table lemon essential oil

A sister to the bergamot oil, this is a more straightforward citrus oil that we find in bug repellents or cleaning products for a reason; it smells great and keeps us moving. Lemon is known for being an energizing oil that also helps with a plethora of other problems.

Lemon oil can help with nausea or abdominal pain for anyone suffering from a bad stomach, recovering from an illness, or dealing with chronic pain. Mixed with coconut oil and used as a rub, it can help to clear up a bad cold as it stimulates the lymph nodes and helps them drain. It also improves mood and can help anyone dealing with depression.

How to Use it

Put a few drops in the laundry while the clothes are wet but not swishing around in the water. This will help them smell nice and benefit the wearer. Or, mix it with coconut oil and rub it on the neck to help the immune system. Diffuse it around the house to help everyone indoors feel great.

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A very common scent and one of our oldest herbal medicines, peppermint is used in a lot of different ways for almost anyone with a health problem or who just wants a little extra energy and focus.

First, peppermint can be used on aching muscles. The oil has been an analgesic for time immemorial and is famous for its ability to help relax any spasms or acute pain. It can also help clear up a bad headache. Make a homemade muscle rub to help a loved one feel like themselves again.

Combined with lavender and applied directly to achy joints, peppermint oil can be a huge relief. Inhaling it can help clear up sinus ailments, a scratchy throat, or a cough. All these will also result in a clearer head and a better mood for anyone who uses it.

How to Use it

Inhale it directly or diffuse the oil to help create a sense of well-being. Help improve circulation by applying it directly to the temples and wrists. Add a little to the forehead to help cure a headache. This oil works best when it's inhaled. Anyone with respiratory problems should try a hot water inhalation to help relieve a stuffy nose, bad sinuses, or asthmatic symptoms.

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You may already use chopped rosemary when you roast potatoes or grill lamb, but it can also help you get much healthier.

rosemary essential oil benefits

Rosemary can lower levels of cortisol, protecting the body from chronic disease. It also helps detoxify the liver and helps the gallbladder function. This helps those with diabetes manage their condition and improve immune function.

Most importantly, this oil helps improve memory and alertness. Use it as a spritz on clothing to help your loved ones remember important details. The warm, piney scent creates a sense of contentment and helps soothe, whether it is used as a diffusion or in a massage oil.

How to Use it

For pain, mix two drops of rosemary with two drops of peppermint and coconut oil. Rub it on any achy part of the body. Rub rosemary and coconut oil on the upper neck for improved memory or diffuse it for at least an hour a day.

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Lavender oil is a prevalent throughout human history for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were anointed with this lovely oil, and it's referenced in the Bible in several different gospels. We still love lavender today, and there is a good reason to be fond of this floral, soothing scent.

Like other oils, lavender can be used to relieve pain and soothe a headache. It has a lot of antioxidants, improves overall health, and can be used to help heal burned skin and prevent scars.

Most importantly, lavender helps us relax, improves our mood, and gets us off to sleep. Stress and anxiety are no match for this powerful herb. Place a pouch of dried lavender flowers under your loved one's pillow to help them drift off or give them an evening rub down with the oil to help them relax. They'll have the sweetest dreams and love you for helping them relax and let go of their struggles.

lavender essential oil benefits

How to Use it

A very easy-to-use oil, lavender can be applied directly to the neck and chest to help the user benefit from its calming scent. It can also be added to the bathtub once it's full to help the aroma fill the air and calm anyone getting into the water. Put 15 drops into a full bath and add one cup of Epsom salts to the water.

Inhale it directly from the bottle or rub a few drops between the palms for an instant diffusion of the scent. Diffuse it in the bedroom to fight insomnia and keep evenings peaceful.