The Benefits of Meditation for Seniors
More and more people are into meditation these days. Even before the pandemic, the number of adults practicing meditation more than tripled between 2012 and 2017, according to a National Institutes of Health survey. Why the surge in popularity? And what might meditation offer older adults who may be worrying about their changing bodies, financial situation, or what might happen if they can no longer stay in their home, especially if they live on their own?
Stop stressing, start breathing.
Stop for a moment and breathe in through your nose. Breathe out through your mouth. Breathe in. Breathe out. Notice how your body relaxes when you breathe out. A sense of calm and relaxation is just one way meditation can help seniors manage the stress and anxiety that comes with age.
Meditation also teaches you to become more aware of your thoughts and respond to them, well, more thoughtfully. Instead of reacting in the moment with a snap judgement or sharp response you later regret, meditation teaches you how to put some distance between your thoughts and your own mind so you can make better decisions in a calm, relaxed manner.
In addition to becoming more thoughtful and less likely to react to day-to-day slights like you’re being attacked by a saber-toothed tiger, meditation for seniors offers a host of life-improving benefits, including:
Lower stress levels – Many people start meditating to reduce stress and anxiety. Chronic stress increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, obesity and memory loss. It affects your sleep and immune response. Meditation teaches you how to react to stress and negative thoughts, and has been shown to reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
Reduced anxiety and depression – A John Hopkins study found that mindfulness meditation reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain at the same rate as antidepressant medication. No one is suggesting that meditation relieves chronic pain, but it may improve the mental health of those who are dealing with it.
Better brain function – A 2014 review of a dozen studies involving older adults suggested that meditation was linked to positive effects on attention, memory, executive function, processing speed and general cognition. Mindfulness activities like meditation have been found to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Meditation for seniors may also protect the brain against aging by preserving gray matter, the tissue that contains neurons.
Improved digestion – Chronic stress can cause problems in your gut, including inflammation, acid reflux and ulcers. Meditation helps reduce stress, which helps alleviate digestive problems. Deep breathing associated with meditation also increases oxygen levels in the body, so your digestive system can function more effectively.
A better night’s sleep – Many older adults suffer from insomnia. Insufficient sleep can cause all sorts of health problems, such as increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and poor immune function. Meditation can help bring about a relaxed state of mind so you can fall asleep more easily. Over the long term, meditation may help you sleep more soundly with fewer nighttime awakenings.
We’re mindful of your health at Fellowship Senior Living.
Meditation classes are just one way we help residents thrive. Our holistic approach to wellness offers classes, activities and events that span seven dimensions of wellness. We also offer a full-service medical practice on-site, along with a full range of health services, if ever needed. It’s another way Fellowship Village helps residents breathe easier every day.
To learn more about how we can help you live healthier and happier, visit independent living.