The basis of American medicine is diagnosis and treatment. The basis of holistic healing is prevention and cure. We at Highgate happen to believe in both traditional medicine as well as alternative approaches to living each day to the fullest – mentally, physically and emotionally.
For the purposes of this article, though, we are going to focus on the holistic aspect of our care, which basically involves getting to know each individual as a whole, and then finding ways we can help that person live the happiest, healthiest life possible.
For many years, we’ve offered aromatherapy and spa baths, with our signature scents and relaxing foot massages. Aromatherapy is the ancient art of using pure and natural essential oils to benefit one’s physical, spiritual and psychological well-being. For centuries, these oils have been used to heal, to promote health and relaxation, and guard against bacterial, molds, fungi and other micro-organisms. At Highgate, we use uplifting scents in the morning to stimulate residents’ appetites and energy levels by diffusing the oils into the room or applying them directly to clothing or tissues. In the afternoon when many dementia sufferers often experience anxiety or “sun-downing,” relaxing oils are used to relieve their stress without the use of psychotropic medications. Residents who have a habit of wandering during the night or have interrupted sleep cycles can find relaxation with a spritz of lavender. Other oils can be used to boost self-esteem and create a grounding effect for tearful residents.
The information received through our senses of smell and touch affects our bodies’ chemistry, affecting the immune system, causing changes in the brain, our moods, or even the way we learn. Our skin is our largest organ, though as people in our society age, the potential for touch deprivation rises dramatically. Increased depression and feelings of isolation and loss can be compounded without touch. At Highgate, we believe that touch through massage is a vital part of our residents’ wellness.
The idea of holistic at Highgate has evolved into making sure the medications our residents take are right and necessary, and advocating with their families and physicians to provide a personalized program of care. It also means offering alternative ways to boost memory and health, through exercise, proper eating and hydration, and making sure our residents are provided myriad avenues for staying socially connected.
For more information about Highgate Senior Living and all the ways we help our residents enjoy the highest quality of life possible, read our ebook, Guide to Holistic Healthcare for Older Adults.