Aromatherapy and Palliative Care

When the time comes for Palliative Care, it is difficult for the person and their family as it signals a terminal illness and nearing the end of life. Making the person as comfortable as possible at this stage is the primary goal.

Supportive therapies, such as aromatherapy and massage, are often helpful during this time.

Aromatherapy can be used in a number of ways; through a relaxing or pain-relieving massage, via a diffuser, or warmed aromatic cloths to bathe the hands, arms, feet and legs.

The professionals at Aromacare have seen the contributions aromatherapy makes to people’s quality of life at this significant stage. Aromatherapy has a low risk of adverse effects.

Benefits of Aromatherapy

In palliative care, aromatherapy is effective in dealing with many health issues that cause discomfort, helping to soothe and heal.

Some of the benefits include;

  • Managing pain
  • Improving moods enabling a re-engagement in the pleasures of life
  • Increasing appetite
  • Promoting sleep at night
  • Reducing anxiety, fear, and depression
  • Improving skin quality, reducing skin tears and discomfort
  • Improving circulation

Aromacare has produced a Palliative Care Aromatherapy Kit which is ideal for aged care facilities, palliative care units, hospices and acute care hospitals supporting people actively dying. The kit is designed specifically to meet the needs of people receiving palliative care.

The collection includes a range of skin care products to repair damaged skin, increase hydration and maintain integrity, massage oils to reduce muscle tension, relax and relieve joint pain and essential oil blends to reduce anxiety, enhance mood and promote wellbeing.


Different Blends for Different Benefits

Stress and Pain Relief

Some people receiving palliative care may find they begin to experience physical or mental stress. To ease their distress, aromatherapy and massage are often used to help calm emotions, reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation.

Massage allows physical contact which generates emotional comfort and strengthens the human connection between carer and client.

To ease stress, blends containing pure Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Rosewood and Palmarosa have been found to be effective.

Anxiety and Depression

For many palliative care clients the prospect they are reaching the end of their life takes its toll. Depression and anxiety are common symptoms and aromatherapy can help reduce anxiety and agitation, uplifting mood.

While valuable for people receiving palliative care, aromatherapy also helps family members deal with their own feelings of impending loss

Particularly effective essential oils for soothing the mind include Lavender, Rosemary, Bergamot, Geranium, Orange, Sandalwood, Ylang Ylang.

Skin Repair

Many people in palliative care have skin problems which cause discomfort. Aromatherapy creams can reduce skin inflammation, increase skin hydration and elasticity and expedite healing of damaged and bruised skin.

Calendula and Arnica oils and Lavandin Super and Geranium essential oils have been found to enhance skin integrity and promote optimal healing of damaged skin.

Appetite Stimulant

Loss of appetite is common among patients receiving palliative care. Certain essential oils stimulate the appetite centre in the brain. The Citrus essential oils in a diffuser or applied to warm face towels may be used to help encourage a person’s appetite before meal times; these oils also have a mood-uplifting therapeutic effect.

Essential oils such as Bergamot Grapefruit, Lemon, Mandarin and Orange stimulate appetite.

Aromatherapy in palliative care has been shown to contribute to a person’s quality of life by providing the therapeutic interventions which relieve pain, anxiety, depression, support and enhance physical, psychosocial and spiritual.

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