When you think of the word “meditation,” what comes to mind? While many people used to associate meditation with monks or yogis, it is becoming an increasingly popular practice for the average individual today. In particular, meditation for seniors is especially beneficial when it comes to aging. For the elderly, meditation comes with a variety of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. Keep reading to find out what meditation is and how it can benefit older adults.
What is Meditation?
Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is meditation? Simply put, it is a natural way to calm the mind and body. Meditation requires individuals to sit or lie down, relax, and pay little attention to thoughts as they drift in and out of the mind. So, when we meditate, our heart rate and breathing naturally slow down, stress decreases, and we feel all-around calmer and more at peace. There are all kinds of different types of meditation, and you can read more about them here. For now, let’s take a look at the benefits of meditation for seniors!
Benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation for Seniors
Meditation Improves Memory
As many of us know, memory loss is an unfortunate “side effect” of aging. However, meditation stimulates the long and short-term memory centers in the brain. For seniors, this could mean better memory recall, like retrieving old memories. According to the EOC Institute, “the aging person’s brain, through meditation, is ensured to retain the ability to store new memories now, as well as through the advancing years.”
Meditation Slows Down the Progression of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s disease, along with other forms of dementia, is prevalent among seniors. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) notes that, while almost 50 percent of people age 85 or older may have some form of dementia, it is not a normal part of aging. In fact, many people live into their 90s without any signs of dementia. So, how can meditation help? Well, studies say that meditation and breathing exercises can slow the development of dementia-related diseases. So, seniors who are experiencing some form of memory loss may want to consider practicing meditation!
Meditation Melts Away Stress
No matter the cause, long-term stress is common in the elderly population. For young and old alike, meditation and mindfulness help people to focus on the here and now. Meditation emphasizes non-judgmental presence, meaning that we can acknowledge our stress and other emotions without being compelled to react to them. For seniors, meditation is an excellent way to organize the thinking process and allow for a clearer perspective.
Meditation Improves Digestion and Circulation
Old age can affect our digestive and circulatory systems. Luckily, meditation can improve both of these. The deep breathing exercises associated with meditation improve circulation and increase oxygen levels in the blood. This sends extra help to all of the body’s organs, including the stomach and intestines. So, seniors with digestive problems could see immediate relief from practicing meditation. Even better, meditation’s extra oxygen boost helps the immune system, which is especially beneficial for the elderly.
Meditation Sharpens the Mind
Meditation increases mental alertness and improves cognitive function in seniors. According to Mindworks.org, “regular meditation causes the brain’s physical structure to change. For example, the amygdala 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.” So, seniors who meditate can experience improved focus, creativity, and cognitive function.
So, what do you think about meditation for seniors? Have you tried it? If not, do you think it would be beneficial? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!