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Aroma Therapy at Wilf Campus’ Jaffa Gate

Jaffa Gate Aroma TherapyWith the use of essential oils combined with massage or aroma touch therapy, various emotions can be activated, especially serenity.

Residents at the Jaffa Gate Memory Care Neighborhood are sensing the healthful and peaceful benefits of Aroma Touch Therapy thanks to JoAnn Johnson. A certified aroma therapist, Johnson is the campus’ assistant director of environmental services.
Jaffa Gate, which is part of Stein Assisted Living on the Oscar & Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living, offers specialized care and support for seniors with memory impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

Starting in August, Johnson introduced the Aroma Touch Technique to Jaffa Gate. She noted that the beneficial use of essential oils has been proven for centuries, a fact substantiated by the University of Maryland Medical Center, stating that “essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years.”

“The ancient Chinese, Indians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans used them in cosmetics, perfumes, and drugs,” notes the medical center. “Essential oils were also commonly used for spiritual, therapeutic, hygienic, and ritualistic purposes.”

By the 1950s, massage therapists, beauticians, nurses, physiotherapists, doctors, and other healthcare providers began using aromatherapy, they explained, but aromatherapy did not become popular in the United States until the 1980s.

According to Johnson, every Friday morning, approximately eight Jaffa Gate residents have been enjoying the aromas of essential oils like lavender, which evokes a sense of calm and reduces stress.

She works with each resident for about 10 minutes using the Aroma Touch Technique, a clinical approach to applying essential oils in the palm of the hands, on top of the hands and then massaging the oils into the skin.

She has also been training two staff members of the of the facility’s activity department on the technique. This has proved to help the well-being of residents by reducing physical and emotional stress and supports healthy functioning. This Aroma Touch Technique is simple, easily learned and uses essential oil blends.

“At first, I brought in a diffuser and used lavender and everyone loved the smell and asked what I was diffusing,” she said. Johnson also mentions that the oils work well while massaging residents’ hands, and also relaxes muscles, soothes joints, promotes circulation, and relaxes target areas.

“The residents smell the oils first to see whether or not they like the scent,” explained Johnson, “For example, if I put peppermint oil on the palms of their hands, it helps to open up their sinuses and produces a calming effect. We are careful to make sure that the scent is first enjoyable to the resident before we begin using it.”

The essential oil therapy is accompanied by music featuring soothing ocean or nature sounds to provide a relaxing ambiance for the residents.

Johnson explained how the following essential oils contain soothing effects:

  • Lavender Oil – can be used for stress management;
  • Chamomile Oil – has excellent calming properties;
  • Orange Oil – creates a feeling of happiness and warmth;
  • Lemon Oil – is used to improve concentration
  • Grapefruit Oil—positively affects mood and revives the mind; and
  • Peppermint Oil – stimulates the mind, increases mental agility and focus

“Residents have told me that it makes them feel wonderful, some of them are so calm that they may fall asleep, but they see great results with it and want me to come back,” she said.

“We don’t say that it (aromatherapy or aroma touch) is a healing agent, but we know that it provides calmness and makes them feel so relaxed,” added Johnson.

“Some of the residents just want to come in and sit in my office because it smells so good,” she said. “I get so much pleasure when I see the relaxation the Aroma Touch Technique is bringing to them.”

Johnson has been working with campus activity director Jackie Kott to explore the expansion of the program to aid the residents at the campus’ Stein Assisted Living who don’t reside on Jaffa Gate.

The Oscar and Ella Wilf Campus for Senior Living is comprised of Stein Assisted Living, Jaffa Gate Memory Care Neighborhood, Stein Hospice, Wilentz Senior Residence, Wilf Transport, and The Foundation at the Wilf Campus. For more information, contact us at (732) 568-1155, [email protected] or visit us at

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