Don’t you know that different scents evoke different emotions? Scents have a way of influencing our mood and even our state of mind. With that being said, aromatherapy is recommended as part of a holistic care treatment for seniors in dementia care assisted living.


What Is Dementia?

A lot of people say that dementia is a normal part of aging. However, a cluster of neurologic or medical conditions affects everyday communication, memory recall and retention, socialization, decision-making, and critical or logical thinking. Dementia refers to a range of symptoms associated with severe cognitive decline that can affect seniors’ quality of life and their families.


Aromatherapy for Dementia

It’s a difficult phase for seniors with dementia, and it’s an even more challenging time for people close to them. Aromatherapy is an alternative therapy that helps promote calmness, boost mood, and beat stress that can help them battle the disease with the use of essential oils.

Aromatherapy uses organic or plant-based essential oils that can be used in baths, oil burners, slathered onto pillows and beds, or rubbed into the skin in the form of massage. These aromatherapy oils are said to have therapeutic and calming properties that are beneficial for dementia patients.

Aromatherapy has been very popular for centuries because it helps relieve anxiety and depression, reduce stress, boost cognitive function, alleviate pain, and promote relaxing sleep. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries to relieve stress and promote calmness and better sleep.

Small studies on aromatherapy and dementia revealed that lemon balm plus lavender oil effectively reduce agitation, aggressiveness, and anxiety in seniors. Aromatherapy is also said to aid in relaxation and longer sleep for Alzheimer’s or other cognitive disorders.


How are Aromatherapy Oils Used?

  • Directly applied to the skin in the form of touch or massage
  • Used with oil burner to produce that relaxing scent
  • Diluted and poured into the bath
  • Sniffed with the use of inhaler or aroma stick
  • Used with an oil diffuser
  • Applied on cotton balls

When inhaled, Aromatherapy oils trigger the smell receptors to transport positive messages that pass through your limbic system, which is the part of your brain that controls human emotions. Whether you would prefer it inhaled or massaged directly to the skin, both are said to yield beneficial effects to seniors in dementia care assisted living.

Hand dropping essential oils into bowl on table

What Aromatherapy Oils are Best for Dementia?

People have their own unique or special preferences for aromatherapy oils or any scents for that matter. Some aromatherapy oils may be beneficial to one but may not work for another patient. With that in mind, knowing your senior patient would help determine the aromatherapy scents that they would love and that could aid them in recovery from dementia symptoms.  


Dubbed as the “mother of oils,” this is a very popular aromatherapy or essential oil for dementia patients. It can help promote feelings of relaxation and calmness and taper down strong emotions. It’s also recommended especially for seniors experiencing insomnia or who have frequent episodes of wakefulness because it can help you sleep better and thus promote a more relaxed and positive mood.

Lemon Balm

If your senior patient is experiencing periods of anxiety or restlessness, then lemon balm can help them relax and calm down. The scent of lemon has always been associated with enjoyable memories. It’s a very stimulating and uplifting scent that reminds you of enjoying a glass of lemonade on a lazy and sunny afternoon. Lemon balm is a vital essential oil, especially for Alzheimer’s disease, because it can ease insomnia symptoms and help promote relaxation. The only downside would be price because this is more expensive than other aromatherapy oils but well worth the price tag.


This is one of the powerful aromatherapy oils to use for dementia patients who tend to forget many things. It improves cognitive functions and reduces anxiety levels. This essential oil is beneficial for boosting memory and helping calm or soothe the nerves. Peppermint essential oil is recommended to be used in the morning to boost energy and help increase the appetite of seniors in dementia care assisted living.


This aromatherapy oil helps improve mood, memory, and overall cognitive aptitude. This is a very stimulating essential oil that allows seniors to relax and focus. If your senior has been grumpy or has mood swings, this helps bring some sunshine and promote a better mood.


This essential oil is a top recommendation for seniors who have dementia and have increased stress levels or agitation. This aromatherapy oil provides that calming, stimulating, and balancing effect to help refresh the mind and alleviate anxiety and depression. In addition, it helps patients who have difficulty sleeping or who are suffering from insomnia symptoms.

Ylang Ylang

This aromatherapy oil can help reduce stress levels and anxiety attacks. It promotes relaxation to improve mood, but one study shows that it may impede memory, so this must be used only with physician recommendation.


Using this aromatherapy or essential oil can effectively repel nausea or upset stomach symptoms, which are classic symptoms you can observe with dementia patients. This helps them relax and relieve stress and tension when they need it the most.


Therapeutic or Health Benefits of Aromatherapy Oils

Aromatherapy or essential oils help dementia patients when a scent triggers a pleasant or desirable memory. Aromatherapy scents can be associated with memories that can help seniors in dementia care assisted living remember things that have been forgotten due to Alzheimer’s or other related diseases. However, be extra careful with the aromatherapy oils you use because as much as scents can trigger good memories, they can also bring back bad memories.

Knowing what particular scents the patients enjoy would help personalize aromatherapy treatments to manage dementia symptoms. Below are other health benefits of aromatherapy oils to dementia patients:

  • Promotes relaxation
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Reduces anxiety and depression
  • Minimizes restlessness or agitation
  • Lessens inflammation
  • Improves sleep quality


Achieve that State of Calm and Boost Memory with Aromatherapy for Seniors

Aromatherapy can help you achieve that state of calm and homeostasis when it comes to enabling a complete connection and communication of your body, mind, and spirit.

Aromatherapy in inhalation or massage has been proven to help improve memory, mood, and sleep. It also relieves excessive agitation and that uneasiness.  Having a more relaxed and stress-free routine helps seniors feel more in control of their day-to-day life.