Nightlight on. Telephone by bed. Medications given. Blankets tucked in carefully.
Standing in the darkened bedroom doorway, a saddened adult suddenly realizes he or she has just switched roles with an elderly parent. The words, not spoken aloud, nevertheless catch a little in the soul. I just put my mother to bed. …
Whether brought on by a broken hip, pneumonia, heart attack, or stroke, this scene will play out in the lives of most of us.
How will you repay years of service unselfishly given for your care as a child as now your elderly parent faces illness and death? What gifts of healing and compassion can you contribute from your life's journey to a beloved parent?
Below, two Young Living distributors share the bounty of love and comfort found in the therapeutic gift of essential oils.
Gloria Brinker has worked in geriatric care since 1985. “I love the elderly and I love the oils,” she remarked. Gloria lives in central Minnesota where she is a Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant and a Certified Natural Health Professional.
While it's an everyday occurrence for health professionals, it is still heart-wrenching to see a frightened Alzheimer's patient struggling against restraints that have been applied to keep them from harm. Gloria has worked in care centers and nursing homes that have the goal of being restraint free. “We used Peace & Calming® or lavender to decrease restlessness, thus decreasing the need for restraints in bed,” she said. During her five years as Director of Rehabilitation and Wellness at a center for sisters retired from a religious community, Gloria advocated the use of essential oils in the center's Restraint Reduction Protocols. While lavender and Peace & Calming were mainstays, she said there was one resident for whom frankincense was wonderfully calming.
Peace & Calming was also used on an elderly gentleman who had difficulty sleeping. Afterward, he reported, “I can't remember the last time I slept that good!”
Essential oils were also helpful with bedsores and wounds. After the medical director at the center where Gloria worked saw the effectiveness of essential oils in soothing wounds, she signed an order stating nurses could initiate the use of essential oils on any wound. Gloria said, “After this, we pretty much eliminated wounds because if the area started to turn red, the nurses' aides would tell the nurses, and they would start applying essential oils before there was an open area.”
For the wound protocol, Gloria found that lavender and cypress were particularly effective. For a more difficult case, helichrysum was added. One resident with lupus had bumped her leg, resulting in a wound that after three months of treatment simply wouldn't heal. The woman was very independent and refused to give up on healing. She told Gloria that it just throbbed. But when oils were applied, she felt no pain. The wound began to drain after the application of oils, and then it healed.
One patient's experience had Gloria calling the oils “awesome!” An elderly woman had fractured her cheekbone close to her eye and had to have plastic surgery and a plate and screw inserted. While the surface skin was healing nicely, it appeared that some scar tissue was developing underneath causing the lower eyelid to pull down. The woman anticipated another surgery to remove the scar tissue.
Gloria explained that many of the elderly are hesitant to take more medications but are open to the topical use of essential oils. Lavender and helichrysum were applied 3-4 times a day to the eighty-seven-year-old woman's face. At her checkup, the plastic surgeon was impressed. “Keep it up,” he said. “These oils are good things. We don't see this kind of healing in someone your age.” No further surgery was necessary.
Gloria's experience in using essential oils in elderly care is still slightly surprising to her. “It's actually a little outside the realm of occupational therapy. The nurses used me as a resource for which oils to use.” Young Living distributor Star Moree was also a consultant at the retirement center with Gloria. From diabetic foot ulcers to spasms after hip replacement surgery, essential oils soothed and comforted the elderly patients. “Marjoram followed by peppermint, diluted with V-6™ Enhanced Vegetable Oil Complex eased muscle and joint pain,” Gloria said. “Oils make such a difference.”
Poet Dylan Thomas had it wrong when he wrote, “Do not go gentle into that good night.” When a beloved parent is dying, the adult child's most fervent wish is for a gentle and peaceful exit from this life.
One Young Living distributor found that her life's work had blessedly prepared her for serving her parents during their last days.
Young Living Silver Marilee Tolen has more than two decades of experience in holistic nursing, energy medicine, intuitive diagnosis, and vibrational therapies. She is board certified in holistic nursing and has served as a board member of the American Holistic Nursing Association. She has trained with Carolyn Myss, Ph.D., and is the founder and former director of a wellness center and integrative medical facility.
But first and foremost, Marilee is a daughter. She was blessed to be able to use all the comforting modalities she had learned in her career to care for the two most important patients in the world: her father and mother.
In three years' time, Marilee lost both of her parents. Martin J. Tolen died in 2001 and Mary J. Tolen died in 2004. At her father's passing, he told her, “This is just beautiful. This is the way it's supposed to be. Tell the world about this!” Even though Marilee's father died of emphysema, he nonetheless died peacefully with a smile on his face.
What made Martin Tolen's death peaceful, when dying of emphysema can be terribly traumatic as the patient struggles for every breath? Marilee says that thankfully, her father was open to using oils. She diffused frankincense and anointed his body with the spiritual oils from the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture™ Kit.
“At the end stage, there is nothing better than the Twelve Oils of Ancient Scripture,” Marilee said. “No matter what our religious background, dying is a spiritual process and anointing is comforting.”
Marilee's father used the services of Samaritan Home Hospice, which is based in New Jersey In addition to inhalers and anti-anxiety medications, complementary holistic therapies eased his last months. He received massage, Healing Touch, aromatherapy with Young Living essential oils, and music therapy.
“The oils were a great source of comfort to our family. I couldn't have been doing anything better. The greatest gift to him and myself was using the oils,” Marilee explained.
She created a special blend to help maximize oxygen for her father. She blended rosemary, lemon, and peppermint, and her father enjoyed his “rosemint.” She also was aware of the serious side effects of pain medications-gastrointestinal discomfort and constipation. Marilee recommends Di-Gize™ on the belly for these problems.
Three years later, as Marilee's mother began losing her battle with kidney cancer, she too entered Samaritan Home Hospice where she received the loving application of essential oils. “The use of oils brings the family together,” Marilee said. She told how family members have an instinctive need to touch. “Whether you're holding hands, rubbing a brow, or touching a leg, essential oils can be a part of that,” she suggested.
Caring for an elderly parent or relative can bring one up against depression. “I have found that as a nurse and energy worker, just with oils on my hands, running them gently through the patient's energy field works wonders!” Marilee explained.
She said that in Alzheimer's care, a confused or combative patient can be soothed by applying frankincense on your hands and running it through their energy field and around their head, which calms the patient amazingly “What a magic bullet we are using!” Marilee said.
Marilee has taught members of the hospice community ways to help and comfort patients in the process of dying. “I also teach volunteers how to help families through this process,” she said. “Family members feel helpless; there's not a whole lot they can do.” She explained that essential oils can augment conventional care, especially with pain management. A situation might arise where the patient awakes in the middle of the night in distress. “You can apply the oils on the feet,” she said. “And it's great to know how to rub an oil on a loved one's back.”
Marilee never forgot her father's words to her: “This is the way it's supposed to be. Tell the world about this!” She has done just that in creating the M. J. Tolen Scholarship Fund that gives educational funding for learning about complementary therapies in end-of-life care. This scholarship fund honors both of her parents and allows recipients to receive training in complementary therapies that are ultimately healing even as the patient is dying.
For more information, visit www.peacefulpassages.org or call the Samaritan Hospice Development Department at 1-800-229-8183. Donations to the fund may be sent to the M.J. Tolen Scholarship Fund for Complementary Therapies in End-of-Life Care/ Samaritan Hospice/Five Eves Drive, Suite 300/Marlton, NJ 08053.
As a parent's life quietly comes to a close, it can end with dignity and beauty in a truly peaceful passage. Empowered families can assist a beloved parent in going gently into that good night.
Reprinted with permission of Young Living, Lehi, UT 84043