SHERBURN - Something new is in the air at Temperance Lake Ridge Assisted Living facility in Sherburn.
Along with the expansion of the memory care unit, a new approach is being taken throughout the facility by adding aromatherapy. But this isn't simply about buying air fresheners or scented candles.
"We were actually looking for a natural replacement for air fresheners," said Temperance Lake Ridge director Lisa Lange. "We started about two months ago. We're slowly introducing it, and will go more into it once the expansion is finished."
Lange has been working with Evie Anderson, a local independent consultant of doTerra Therapeutic Oils.
"The purity is the key," Anderson said of effective aromatherapy. "To be effective for therapy, the oils need to be 100 percent pure. Anything with fillers, synthetics, other chemicals or weeds is not going to be effective ... Lisa contacted me and she had really done her research."
Anderson and Lange cited a Vanderbilt University Medical Center study that showed using aromatherapy had a profound effect not only on patients, but staff. As part of a wellness study, essential oils were used in the air in an emergency room. Before the experiment began, the staff there were surveyed and 60 percent reported being frustrated at work, and 41 percent reported being stressed at work. The same staff members were surveyed after the aromatherapy experiment, and only 6 percent reported being frustrated at work, and just 3 percent said they were stressed.
Along with feelings of being overwhelmed dropping, those who reported feeling well-equipped to handle stress jumped from 13 percent before aromatherapy was implemented to 58 percent afterward. Staff members' perception of optimal energy also jumped, from 33 percent before to 77 percent after.
This type of research has been done in a variety of facilities, including some similar to Temperance Lake Ridge, with amazing success for both staff and residents.
"These oils provide a complementary therapy for the residents as they promote overall physical and emotional wellness, aid in sleep management, boost the immune system and help to manage moods," Lange said. "Among their many other benefits, many of the oils are naturally anti-bacterial and naturally antiviral, providing a more germ-free environment for the residents, staff and visitors.
"We have nebulizing diffusers we are using because of their ability to maximize particle breakdown to best penetrate deeply into the olfactory system and enter the blood stream. These smaller particles also remain suspended in the air for longer periods of time to provide more health benefits."
The diffusers release only a few drops of oil. Just seven drops of the oil released into the air can remain airborne for 16 hours.
In addition to the diffusing form of aromatherapy, residents receive the benefits of the oils in the form of hand massage therapy.
"I commend Lisa for being visionary in seeing these type of needs for residents," Anderson said. "This subject and these products are just going wild. My team just got a call from another nursing home, one with over 300 employees, asking for us to come meet with them."
Anderson will hold classes for Temperance Lake Ridge staff, residents and community to keep them updated on the latest information on natural aromatherapy. There also will be classes held during the Temperance Lake Ridge open house on April 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with several short aromatherapy and essential oil presentations throughout.
"I believe Eastern and Western medicines need to come together, because I know this is not a miracle cure for everything," Anderson said. "But together, it puts the body in a place where it can heal itself."