The influence of scent on senior care residents’ health & well-being
Fear of going into a care home is a very real thing, no matter where you are in the world. Many elderly adults are reluctant to move into a senior living facility — preferring instead to “age in place.” Reasons behind this include:
- fear of the unknown
- fear of neglect and isolation
- loss of independence
- potential for illness
But no matter the reason why senior adults prefer not to live in care facilities, a scenting program from Ambius can help to alleviate the fear and stress of a life change that would be scary for anyone. To speak with one of our scenting experts, contact us today.
Enhancing emotional well-being through scent
The emotional state of residents in senior living facilities can have a direct effect on their physical health. When they are anxious, depressed, or upset, it can trigger a range of symptoms that can exacerbate already poor health and lead to other complications. Carefully chosen fragrances can be subtly introduced into care homes to help to alleviate stress and make residents feel that they are in a more relaxed, comfortable and homely environment. Of all the senses, scent is the best sensory cue for pleasant memories. Studies have shown that people have a very real and visceral reaction to scent. The right smells can trigger memories and create a more pleasant experience for residents.
Depression is the most common mental health problem of later life, affecting about 7% of older people worldwide. This is a statistic that is even higher for care home residents, equating to up to 40%. This can be attributed to many things – the number of individuals in elder care with complex health issues (which can often lead to such mental health issues) is obviously higher; but additionally, loss of independence, isolation and reduced family interaction can also exacerbate feelings of depression.
Some charity organizations and governing bodies (for example The Department of Health, UK) believe that there should be fundamental standards for providers emphasizing the importance of person-centered care. These include the provision of activities that promote mental stimulation, as these can improve health and also help avoid challenging behaviors.
Combating malnutrition through scent
Malnutrition can be a serious problem at any age, but for the elderly, it can be particularly dangerous. Malnutrition affects over 10% of people over the age of 65. In a Premium Scenting study, the introduction of scenting into seven care homes saw malnutrition levels drop by 5% in six weeks when the scent of fresh bread was introduced before and during meal times. The combination of environment, visually appealing meals and scent created a ‘multiplier effect’ thus stimulating appetite.
The impact of scent on cognitive functions in the elderly
According to statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society, 80% of people living in care homes have a form of dementia or severe memory problems. Researchers have found that people who took in the fragrance of cinnamon saw improvements in cognitive functions like visual-motor response, working memory and attention span.
Premium Scenting’s top suggestions for enhancing resident health and well-being
- Spa Eucalyptus – A blend of watery melon and muguet, balanced with medicinal eucalyptus for a smooth yet therapeutic scent. Hints of sauna wood enhance the relaxing quality. Eucalyptus is commonly used to stimulate mental activity and increase blood flow to the brain.
- Refreshing Lavender – Lavender is widely known used for its relaxing aroma-therapeutic benefits. It can be used to reduce the heart rate, making it ideal for environments needing a calm and soothing ambiance. This fragrance has essences of French lavender, bergamot and clary sage blend to create a calming and peaceful environment.
- Magic Garden – A floral oasis of dewy petals that awakens the senses. This is a delightful fragrance for those with memory loss. It is a chance to trigger emotions of walking in a garden or enjoying the smell of a fresh bouquet of flowers from years past.
- Soft Veil – Offers a warm Tahitian vanilla aroma to help calm the senses.
Scent is the most emotive of our senses and with the right scenting program, care homes can achieve a wonderful balance of benefits to meet the emotional and physical needs of residents.
To find out more, download our FREE Senior Living Quality of Life Report by filling out the short form below.