During Health Cluster Session 2, there were a few interesting ideas that we think might be useful in creating our prototype.
Firstly, the concept of aromatherapy was brought up. Aromatherapy uses plant materials and aromatic plant oils, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds for improving psychological or physical well-being. For people with dementia, it has been used to ease anxiety, boost memory and improve their moods. We had never thought about using smell, as we had only mainly concentrated on touch. Some aromas has been shown to be effective in treating dementia, such as lavender because of its calming properties and peppermint because it calms nerves. Our first idea was putting herbs infused in oil into a small bag. If they have panic attacks, their caregivers can try to calm them down using the aroma. However, we realised that different people have vastly different preferences in terms of aromas; we could not just assume that they would find a certain aroma calming. Next, we thought of doing a DIY aromatherapy kit – we would provide various herbs and oils that could produce different scents. Then, they could choose which aroma they like best. The advantages of aromatherapy is that it could ease anxiety, offer relief from depression and improve the quality of life. On the other hand, we were worried that the aromatherapy would not help the elderly dementia patients as it targets their mental health, not their physical health. The elderly dementia patients may not react to the aromatherapy.
Another concept was plant therapy. Plants are considered soothing as they are easy to the eye and let us get away from the concrete jungle we live in. With dementia patients, it could also help them to relax. Again, as there is no concrete evidence that shows plant therapy helps dementia patients, we did not know if it would help them. Also, there are safety concerns with certain plants, such as cacti, as they have prickles and might injure the elderly. If the elderly dementia patients want to hold the potted plant, because of tremors, they might drop it and injure themselves.
These ideas have both advantages and disadvantages, we will take them into account while working on our prototype! :))