As an attorney who specializes in nursing home abuse and neglect, I’ve see the impact of nursing home falls first hand. They have a devastating effect on the residents as well as their families. A recent study conducted by researchers in Japan and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that the scent of lavender had a powerful effect on the rates of falls taking place in nursing homes.
The study consisted of 145 residents in three random Japanese nursing homes. All of the participants were over 65-years-old. Half of the participants were given a patch smelling of lavender that was never removed. Half of the participants were given no olfactory patches whatsoever.
The results showed that there were fewer nursing home falls in the lavender group (26) than in the non lavender group (36) over the course of a single year.
Also, the participants who wore the lavender patches showed a decrease in the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) as well. The CMAI is a diagnostic tool used to determine how agitated victims suffering from dementia are. Agitation, typically mixed with fear, is a common reaction to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This agitation often leads to the resident being prescribed drugs for varying degrees of sedation.
Frankly, I can’t conceive of a reason why the smell of lavender might help to keep someone from falling or lower their level of agitation. The study is very small as well as short in duration. However, there’s no potential harm to freshening the air in nursing homes either through the planting and placement of lavender plants or through more artificial means.
Another recent study showed that 1 in 5 residents suffer a fall during their first month in a nursing home. These falls can cause a spiral of disability and depression for the resident as well as the families involved.
If you have a loved one who has suffered from a nursing home fall, consider placing some favorite fragrances in their room. It certainly can’t hurt. If, however, you feel your loved one is falling because of abuse or neglect, you should contact an attorney skilled in nursing home abuse and neglect cases.