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Taiwan hospital offers aromatherapy for elderly

Treatment is free for those who cannot afford it

<p>Volunteers administer aromatherapy treatments in Taitung, Taiwan</p>

Volunteers administer aromatherapy treatments in Taitung, Taiwan

  • Francis Kuo, Taitung
  • Taiwan
  • July 29, 2013
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St Mary’s Hospital in Taitung on Saturday inaugurated Taiwan’s first aromatherapy facility devoted to serving the elderly.

The facility, managed by the Aromatic Care Promotion Center at the Church-run hospital in eastern Taiwan, builds on an earlier volunteer program that was started in 2009 to help survivors of that year’s devastating floods.

Wu Hsiu-chen, who directs the center, first brought aromatherapists and other volunteers to the disaster area during the floods caused by Typhoon Morakot, which killed 600 people, to provide massage and aromatherapy for victims who showed signs of emotional trauma.

“The victims did not want to consult doctors or take sleeping pills, but they queued up for aromatherapy. Some fell asleep on the spot, while others had a good cry after beginning to relax,” Wu said.

Since that time, the hospital has trained eight aromatherapists along with more than 30 other volunteers, while also developing their own essential oils that target specific ailments.

Since 2009, the hospital has served about 12,000 people in the indigenous area, despite lingering misconceptions that aromatherapy is a luxury reserved for privileged society women rather than an effective medical treatment, Wu said.

It was by chance that Wu had been in Taitung when the typhoon hit, she said, and she decided to stay on because “nothing is more important than the relief work.”

Earlier this year, the Hualien diocese entrusted to the hospital an abandoned dormitory, which prompted the idea of turning it into an aromatherapy house.

Bishop Philip Huang of Hualien said during the inauguration ceremony that he hoped the “spirit of love and care” would inform the operation of the new facility.

The center offers its services at a low fee to help defray operational expenses, but fees can be exempted for those in need who cannot afford the treatment.

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