Mar 09, 2015 - 08:15 AM
I can't speak to the scientific validity of aromatherapy in relation to anxiety. There are studies that show that it can be effective. Here is a NIH publication on one such study:
When discussing best practices, anything that safely decreases anxiety, especially in cases of dementia, are positive activities to include in a resident/patient care plan. I would put aromatherapy in the same category as physical touch activities such as hand massage therapy that can lead to positive redirection and anxiety reduction. If it works to promote the wellness of the resident and is safe for the parties involved, then it should be considered as an activity to include in that resident's care. I would not consider any positive therapies a mere fad if they are effective and safe and promote the dignity and wellness of the resident.
For further reading, the Alzheimer's Association has published a document entitled "Alternative Therapies in Alzheimer’s Disease... a reviewed collection of items prepared by the Alzheimer's Association Green-Field Library staff" which includes a subsection devoted specifically to aroma-therapies: