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Aromatherapy Stress Relief for Seniors and Caregivers

aromatherapy stress relief

Aromatherapy stress relief helps both seniors and caregivers

Caring for an older adult is a tough job. It’s also difficult to be the person whose body or mind is declining.

This chronic stress can decrease the quality of life for both seniors and caregivers. It also increases the chances of developing serious physical and mental health issues.

A simple, but effective, non-drug stress management technique called aromatherapy uses the powerful positive effect of scent on the body to help both seniors and caregivers improve health and well-being.

We explain how scents can relieve stress, the benefits of aromatherapy stress relief for seniors and caregivers, and share a list of effective and inexpensive aromatherapy supplies.


How scents relieve stress

Smells can instantly trigger significant memories as well as affect the body’s nervous system.

When the nose smells something, the olfactory nerve is triggered. 

It signals the parts of the brain that control emotions, mood, and memory. These parts also control the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for the fight-or-flight and relaxation responses. 

This explains why scents can cause physical reactions.

A research study even showed that lavender essential oil can have a calming effect similar to that of anti-anxiety medications. That’s powerful!

For example, when you enter a spa massage area and smell a soothing, pleasing scent, you start feeling calmer and more relaxed.

Benefits of aromatherapy for seniors and caregivers

Seniors and caregivers can benefit from aromatherapy in many ways, including:

  1. Less stress

  2. Improved sleep

  3. Improved digestion (reduced constipation)

  4. Reduced pain levels

  5. Reduced anxiety and depression

For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, aromatherapy can help reduce challenging behaviors that are caused by anxiety or mild discomfort.

How to use aromatherapy stress relief at home

Aromatherapy is easy to put into practice. Everyone has different scent preferences, so start by identifying a couple of scents that you and your older adult enjoy.

Then, experiment with different ways of scenting the environment until you find what works best.

Popular scents to relieve stress, calm, and soothe:

There are dozens of scents available, so don’t limit yourself to this list. Whatever scents please you or your older adult will work just fine.

Common ways to use essential oils:

  1. Scented lotion

  2. Bath oils / shower tablets

  3. Room diffusers

  4. Pillow spray

  5. Sachets

  6. Diffuser jewelry – uses small clay beads to release scent


Aromatherapy supplies: suggestions and where to buy

Scented lotions and candles Lotions and candles are probably the most commonly used forms of aromatherapy and can be found almost anywhere, from drugstores to department stores.

Discount retailers like Target, Ross, and Marshalls often have great deals on these products.

Essential oils If you’re going to use a diffuser, you’ll need some oil to put inside.

You can find essential oils (pure and blends) at online retailers and local natural foods stores. Major stores include Amazon (see options here) and Whole Foods.

Essential oil diffusers Diffusers help the scent of the essential oil spread throughout a room.

Simpler versions use reeds and others are more like scented humidifiers (note: don’t put essential oils in a regular humidifier, it will get clogged).

Some options:

Another option is to make your own reed diffuser – these instructions are helpful.

Bath soap, salts, and shower tablets Creating a spa-like environment is a wonderful way to encourage your older adult to bathe.

It’s also a great way to unwind after a long day of caregiving.

Some options:

Pillow spray Spraying a light scent (like lavender) onto the pillow or in the sheets often helps people relax and makes it easier to drift off to sleep.

Some options:

Sachets These scented pouches are great for adding to a bedside table or next to a favorite chair. They’re also simple to make at home.

Some options:

Another option is to make your own scented sachets – we liked these instructions for simple sachets and easy coffee-filter sachets.

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By DailyCaring Editorial Team Image: Kathryn Homes

This article reflects prices at publication, but prices and availability may change. This article wasn’t sponsored, but does contain affiliate links. We never link to products for the sole purpose of making a commission. Product recommendations are based on our honest opinions. For more information, see How We Make Money.


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