Mindfulness Meditation: All The Benefits For Older Adults
Depending on your personal point of view, getting older might sound like an exciting prospect. After all, you gain more experience, learn more about the world and yourself, and go through all kinds of different emotions and places. On the other hand, you may view getting older as something to be slightly afraid of. And truth be told, the experience does come at a price, as your capabilities and capacities slowly diminish. Loneliness, anxiety, depression, dementia, and all sorts of assorted challenges come with getting older. Fortunately, there is a way to work around and with all of the ailments that strike us as we pile on all that experience: mindfulness meditation.
What is and isn’t mindfulness meditation?
In essence, this is the practice of retiring to a quiet place every day, sitting down and focusing on your awareness of the present moment. It allows you to get more profoundly in touch with your emotions, your thoughts, even your body, as well as the world and people around you. Some people believe it’s about sitting around thinking about nothing, or alternately, trying to stop your thoughts from going in a certain direction. Neither one of these opinions is true. It’s about monitoring and accepting your thoughts, not trying to change them for the better.
Benefits of mindfulness meditation
As such, this practice has numerous benefits for older adults, some of which include:
A study has been published suggesting that those among the elderly who practice mindfulness live longer lives, and the practice has been found to reduce mortality rates. Mindfulness meditation is known to reduce stress levels, improve sleep, and boost the immune system. All of these factors combine to help combat disease and the side effects of old age all at the same time. Not to mention, mindfulness increases the quality of life and helps patients cope with all kinds of illness, as it is a great way to retain a positive outlook on life, even in advanced years. As this mindset promotes healing, we can clearly see the link between the two.
Improved mental health
The top benefit of mindfulness is often considered to be the effect it has on our mental health. Anxiety, depression, and loneliness are all common as we get older, more frail, less mobile, and no longer able to participate in life the way we used to. Consistent meditation can marvelously combat all of these mental health challenges and help older adults feel better about their daily lives.
Help with battling Alzheimer’s disease
While further research still needs to be completed in order for us to gain more insight into the matter, a study has shown that meditation can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s. Considering that this is a widespread disease that causes a lot of pain to both the patient and their loved ones, combined with the fact that we do not yet know how to prevent it, this potential prevention method should be seriously explored. If you are caring for someone suffering from Alzheimer’s, you might want to introduce mindfulness meditation into their routine as early as possible. Once you manage to introduce some level of regularity in their practice, observe what changes and improvements can be noted in their mood and cognitive abilities.
Mindfulness is also a great practice to help battle the blues older adults can suffer from. And as these negative moods strongly impact their caregivers and family members, this boost in mood can also bring about a social benefit as well. As we become more mindful, we begin to explore our thoughts and emotions differently. We learn what to expect from our minds and proverbial hearts. This lends itself well to decreased mood swings and irritability.
Practicing mindfulness is also a great way to improve memory. As we get older, our brains don’t retain information as well as they used to, even when we’re not suffering from any form of dementia. Exercising this faculty in a stress-free and comprehensive manner is always an avenue worth exploring. Introducing a mindful meditation practice into a daily routine may seem like a challenge, and getting used to the rhythms of your brain will take some time. But as long as you don’t give up at the first hurdle, you will soon begin to experience all of these benefits yourself.
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