In Memoriam: Trudy Welker

Posted on January 19, 2013 0

Trudy Welker
Remembering Trudy Welker

Many members may have known the Certified Aromatherapist and aromatherapy pioneer, Trudy Welker from Northbrook, Il.   Trudy, 79, passed away in her sleep on November 8, 2012. Her dedication in introducing many uses of essential oils for long term care ran deep.   She developed aromatherapy programs in Illinois, Washington, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Massachusetts.  She also took courses on plants and herbs in England at Cambridge University.   One of her special interests was sensory stimulation for quality of life.  She developed aromatherapy protocols for relaxation programs, insomnia, repetitive behaviors by the developmentally challenged and symptoms relating to “sun downing” in long term care.       

Trudy gave a workshop on, “Sensory Stimulation for Quality of Life “ at the October, 2005 Aromatics in Action Aromatherapy Conference in Denver.  “May everyone’s aromatic journey lead to inner peace and happiness!”   Trudy was a voracious reader and visited her local library weekly. If you would like to make a donation in her name, an inscription will be installed in the library courtyard donor area with her name and the simple note, “Reading Shall Empower”.   Northbrook Public Library, 1201 Cedar Lane, Northbrook, IL 60062.


Essential Oils in Long Term Care Facilities

by Trudy Welker

I have fond memories of when I began my journey to share the joys of aromatherapy with Long Term Care Sites.  I truly felt honored to work with each individual of the dedicated staff and residents. It was inspirational to see that my in-service attendees were very enthusiastic about this aromatic care modality; they looked forward to implementing an aromatic program as quickly as possible.

Today in the United States one can find an infinite array of books dealing with essential oils, ranging from beginning to advanced levels of study. Some of the books have something of value to contribute and many do not. Institutional supply catalogues carry some essential oils and a few books; lack of knowledgeable instruction renders these tools useless. Specific population-sensitive information is needed. It soon became apparent that something more than a few notes taken from my lectures was important. This motivated me to spend the time to create a special program and a manual that could be an on-site working reference.

Although essential oils can be useful for a variety of health conditions, I focus on Sensory Stimulation and Quality of Life issues. Specifically, emotional discomfort is a common experience that impedes creativity, learning and healing. It has long been and still is my personal belief that nurturing a balanced emotional and mental state can do much to support the immune system and create an environment for healing and comforting the body. My philosophy is to walk gently and carefully into these sheltered places. Residents in a Long Term Care setting have many physical compromises that must be taken into consideration. For this reason I have selected a limited number of essential oils and hydrosols as appropriate.

We all have the tendency to seek a quick fix for problems; staff members at institutional sites are no different in this quest. Before even delving into essential oil use to remedy difficult situations, I clearly state, aromatherapy is a tool that can be used to build a bridge between two persons. Intent of the therapist is a primary consideration when using this tool. The most compromised client can discern whether the therapist truly cares and wishes to help them. The unseen energy and focus of the therapist shines through regardless of any visual, emotional or auditory deficits of the client. When the therapist or caretaker is truly focused on the patient and the situation, then aromatherapy can be implemented.

Hydrosols, essential oils, lotions, massage oils and foam baths may now become the valued tools of the caretaker. To minimize the risk of adverse reactions only the most gentle and safe oils and hydrosols should be used.   Standard safety and contra-indication issues should be confirmed. Essential oils should be purchased from brokers who supply a GC printout certifying quality: hydrosols should have microbiology certification for freedom from bacteria and molds. Essential Oil Material Safety Data Sheets are required for all institutions.

Oils for Emotional Balance

STATUS

DERMAL/MASSAGE OIL, LOTION – 1% or less

AERIAL DIFFUSION

Anger
Lavender,Blends Generosity/Tranquility
Litsea cubeba, Rose/Neroli Hydrosol, Frankincense
Anxiety
Blend, Lavender, Geranium Rose,Sandalwood
Lavender, Rose/Neroli Hydrosol
Appetite
 
Mandarin, Orange, Grapefruit
Depression
Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Rose, Neroli
Mandarin, Bergamot, Grapefruit,Tangerine
Focus
 
Lemon, Citrus oils, Holy basil
Insomnia
Lavender, Sandalwood, Vetiver
Rose/Neroli Hydrosols
Memory Retrieval
Blend / Essence
Rosemary, and Citrus Oils, Blend Generosity
Perseveration,
Blend/Tranquility/Mystery
Rose/Neroli Hydrosol, Blend/ Tranquility
Sundowning
Lavender, Blend Comfort/Generosity
Rose / Neroli Hydrosol, Comfort Blend
Terminal
Blends Comfort /Tranquility, Blend/ Generosity
Rose/Neroli Hydrosols, Comfort Blend
 

Synergy Components
Comfort: Cypress, Rose, Frankincense
Essence: Bergamot, Tangerine, Sandalwood, Cardamon  - Palm of hand or bottom of foot – No exposure to sunlight.
Generosity: Spikenard, Lavender, Rose
Mystery: Geranium, Frankincense, Sandalwood
Tranquility: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Neroli, Rose, Lavender

SUCCESSFUL PROTOCOLS

  • Anger issues should be dealt with calmly and one to one, unless there is a chance of physical harm. One must be in control of oneself to assess a situation and formulate the correct response: sometimes it can take the form of massage or simply using a hydrosol to clear the air.
  • Anxiety issues can be eased using hand or foot massage with lotion or massage oil and the appropriate essential oil.  Transition times are difficult especially for Alzheimer/dementia patients. For example, preparing the patient before the trip to the bathing facility can reduce bathing anxiety. These techniques are also useful before medical intervention.
  • Diffuse Grapefruit oil to encourage patients to become alert and participate in daily activities.
  • For the patient that has difficulty staying on task during mealtime, diffuse citrus oils, such as sweet orange, mandarin or tangerine.
  • Many patients look forward to a drop of Lavender on their pillow to alleviate insomnia. Some patients enjoy having the room prepared at nighttime by misting with Neroli or Rose Hydrosol.
  • Foot baths, with Lavender help calm and distract the person who becomes single minded (perseveration). This appliance can be found in most drug stores or chain stores.
  • Sundowning behaviors in the Alzheimer patient are best resolved on a one to one basis, using gentle interactive touch or hydrosols.
  • An ideal arrangement is to have a designated relaxation room, furnished with a comfortable chair, dim lighting and an essential oil diffuser. This can be successfully used as positive behavior reinforcement.
  • Cypress, Rose and Frankincense in the hospice setting can help soothe both patient and family. An attractive delivery system and appropriate text card convey staff concern.

Oftentimes when we discuss care of clients we tend to overlook care of the caretaker. I strongly advocate the maxim, “ one must be good to oneself before one can be good to another”. Therefore, I direct a portion of my programs directly to the caretaker. Therapists are encouraged to utilize breathing techniques, meditation exercises and of course essential oils in the same manner as those we use with the residents. Twice a year participating sites receive a newsletter that recounts successful strategies that each site is using and tips for self-care. Therapists benefit by sharing information and feel less isolated. This becomes circular, in validating the work situation for the therapist the client experiences a more serene and enjoyable life experience.  Personally, this also becomes a circular event in my work: when I can encourage caretakers and help provide comfort to residents I in turn feel emotionally rewarded and strive to become more dedicated.

In conclusion, yes there definitely is a place for the safe and proper use of the Aromatic Plant Oils not only in one’s personal life, but also for those in residential care who are bereft of the amenities that we enjoy and sometimes take for granted. I would be remiss if I neglected to recognize and applaud the therapists and staff in the sites with which I have worked; they are caring, hard working, dedicated and compassionate.

MAY EVERYONE’S AROMATIC JOURNEY LEAD TO INNER PEACE AND HAPPINESS! 

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