Meditation teaches us to be present in the moment and to experience the world from a place of observation rather than judgment. Many doctors believe meditation to be the very best tool for mental, physical, and emotional senior health. Meditation can provide a lot of benefits to seniors as they age.
What is Meditation?
The most widely used form of meditation in the United States is mindfulness meditation, which involves deep breathing, relaxation techniques and focusing on the present. When people think of meditation, they often picture sitting still and emptying the mind. While that is one way to participate in meditation, it can also include activities that clear your mind and focus on the present such as walking, listening to soothing music or mindfully eating food. The overall goal of meditation is to calm your mind and observe your thoughts, rather than letting them take over and stress you out.
Meditation can have a lot of impact on your brain’s function and abilities. These impacts are especially beneficial to seniors who may be suffering from memory loss, insomnia and an overall decrease in brain function.
- Improve memory – Meditation boosts the activity in the hippocampus, which is the part of our brain that is responsible for memory and learning. Regular meditation increases the blood flow to that part of the brain, which leads to a stronger network of blood vessels and reinforces memory capacity.
- Ease insomnia – Lack of sleep can decrease the quality of life and have negative side effects, like leading to increased risk of heart disease, depression, and high blood pressure. In a study reported by the National Institute of Health, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) offered significant improvements in total sleep time and in reduced sleep onset.
- Focus the mind – Meditation requires your mind to concentrate on one specific thing at a time. Regular meditators find that their practice of focus and mindfulness carries over beyond their meditation sessions into their everyday life.
- Reduce loneliness – A UCLA study that measured the effects of daily mindful meditation for 30 that taught participants to focus on the present rather than stressing about the past or future found that participants reported a drop in the feeling of loneliness. Additionally, blood tests show that the expression of inflammatory-related genes that have been shown to be related to increased feelings of loneliness also decreased.
- Increase happiness – Studies conducted on Buddhist monks, who practice meditation, showed signs of elevated brain activity in the cerebral regions that are associated with happiness, relaxation, and other positive emotions.
- Alleviate stress – Meditation has been proven to lower stress levels when practiced regularly. When one meditates, they focus on individual thoughts, which decreases the stress that happens when thinking about too many things at once.
- Manage chronic pain – Meditation can help reduce chronic pain and learn new ways to process that pain. According to a Psychology Today article, clinical trials have shown that individuals can reduce chronic pain by 57% using mindfulness meditation and advanced meditators can reduce it by over 90%.
- Reduce inflammation – Mindfulness and meditation can help reduce chronic inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and asthma by lowering stress-evoked cortisol responses that often arise.
- Improve circulation – Focusing on breathing and strengthening the consistency of breaths improves circulation and blood flow, especially in patients with Chronic Heart Failure.
Helping an aging loved one open up to the idea of meditation can put them on a path to improving their quality of life. At About Care Home Care, our focus is on providing the highest quality of life possible to our patients. Contact us today to learn more about how About Care Home Care can help your loved one.