Yoga Pose

Older Adults and the Benefits of Meditation

At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.

There have been numerous studies focusing on specific techniques and methods that increase relaxation and overall health. Chief among these with the greatest positive results, is meditation.

So, you may be asking, “what’s meditation?” According to Psychology Today, meditation is defined as, “the practice of turning one’s attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.”

With so many of us having busy daily lives that require our attention being pulled in many different areas, the art of focusing on one point of reference not only can bring a sense of calm and relaxation, but also a new-found direction and focus for the rest of the day.

While meditation has positive results for all ages, the ones for older adults are even greater. Several studies (with supporting research) on meditation focus on the numerous health benefits for our senior population, including:

Memory

Regular meditation has been linked with increased short- and long-term memory in older adults by stimulating the memory areas within the brain. Since declining memory as we grow older is of great concern, implementing regular meditation practice can contribute to slowing potential decline, while also strengthening current memory status.

Cognitive Improvement

Psychologist Moria Smoski, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Duke Health states that, “Meditation may help preserve cognitive function in folks who are starting to have struggles with cognition. It’s associated with maintaining function longer than if you didn’t have a meditation practice.” Meditation has been shown to have several positive effects on attention, processing speed and overall brain cognition.

Circulation

Meditation also can help contribute to better circulation and oxygen in the blood which is important for our elderly population as this declines at an ever-increasing rate as we age.

Loneliness

A 2012 study published in “Brain, Behavior, and Immunity” found that a total of eight weeks of mindful meditation decreased loneliness in seniors and increased a sense of connectedness.

Ultimately, all of us should try to practice meditation to clear our minds and put aside the stresses of the day. For our elderly population however, the additional benefits of meditation are endless. Not only can seniors educate themselves with resources on proper meditation techniques such as books and online articles, but many CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) have wellness centers that promote classes and seminars by trained professionals that focus on relaxation and meditation. By participating, residents can regularly incorporate meditation into their schedules to in turn, maintain better overall health and happiness!

References
What Is Meditation? (2019). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/meditation

Godman, H. (2018, June 22). The Many Benefits of Meditation for Older Adults. Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/wellness/aging-well/articles/2018-06-22/the-many-benefits-of-meditation-for-older-adults


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