Health and Wellness |
Benefits of mindful meditation for older adults
February 4, 2021
Too often we go about our daily tasks and responsibilities just as we have every other day in autopilot mode. Think about how many times we enter a room to do something and notice that we forget what it is that we set out to accomplish. This is because we are not fully paying attention. Incorporating mindfulness into everyday life can offer a long list of benefits to looking after your wellbeing as you age.
Mindfulness is a quality that every human being already possesses, it’s not something you have to conjure up, you just have to learn how to access it. Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present in your surroundings and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you.
Not only is practicing mindfulness a great skill to have, in doing so, benefits include stress reduction, a more focused mind, and a sense of relaxation and calmness. Additionally, mindfulness has been found to improve memory and slow down the progression of dementia . It’s no surprise, then, that this practice is becoming more popular among older adults.
Top 5 benefits of meditation for older adults:
1. Slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia related diseases.
Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are progressive illnesses more common among people after the age of 65. Dementia destroys memory, disrupts crucial mental functions and can wreak havoc with emotions. However, a recent study showed that a combination of meditation and breathing exercises can help slow down the development of dementia-related diseases .
2. Enhancing digestion
Digestive functions can be affected by a variety of factors, including diet, stress and age. Studies show regular mindful practices can improve digestion. The deep breathing that occurs naturally during meditation improves circulation and increases oxygen levels in the blood .
3. Developing a sharp, focused mind
Regular meditation causes the brain’s physical structure to change. For example, the region that’s associated with processing negative emotions such as stress, worry and anxiety often shrinks, while the areas responsible for self-awareness, personality development and planning increase. As a result, meditators experience improved focus, creativity and cognitive function: a great result for older people.
4. Improving memory
Meditation stimulates the memory centres within the brain. And since memory loss is one of the undesired “side effects” of aging, improved memory and cognitive function are precious allies as we grow older. Preliminary evidence indicates that mindfulness helps maintain both long- and short-term memory functions.
5. Managing moods and emotions
Managing moods and emotions is a challenge for most of us, regardless of our age. As we grow older, physiological changes may impact mood stability and make it even more difficult to control our emotional reactions. There is also evidence that meditation enhances positive emotions of well-being and empathy for young and old alike.
You don’t need to put aside hours each day to practice mindfulness. You can begin your mindful practices with some of these activities:
Beathing exercises: To practice mindful breathing, start by finding a comfortable place to sit and close your eyes. Then, focus your attention on your breath. Notice how your body feels as you breathe in and out. Don’t try to slow down your breathing or follow a pattern. Instead, pay attention to how you breathe naturally.
Walking: Mindful walking is a good option for seniors who prefer active exercises. If you have a hard time staying focused while you’re sitting quietly, you may find it easier to practice mindfulness while you’re moving.
Body awareness: Body awareness exercises are similar to breathing exercises, but you call attention to your body instead of your breath. Once you get comfortable, scan your body, paying attention to how each body part feels and any thoughts, feelings, or emotions you have.
Much like exercise, which trains the body, the training of the mind through meditation is most effective when done regularly. Find joy and a sense of accomplishment in establishing mindfulness as a regular habit.