Seniors and Meditation – The Benefits
Practicing meditation can be extremely beneficial for our physical and mental wellbeing. Especially for seniors, meditation offers a great way to cope with the issues that arise as we advance in age.
Anxiety, stress, and depression are all common in our senior years, particularly as we face a number of on-going changes that occur in our bodies and in our environment. Meditation can help us to overcome the challenges that come before us, and can be a very effective tool for mental, physical and emotional health.
Coping with anxiety
Anxiety among seniors is more common than you think. In fact, studies show that around 10% of adults aged 65 and over are diagnosed with anxiety in any given year. Anxiety can have a huge impact on everyday life and can be caused by a range of factors, including:
- Cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
- Needing physical assistance, such as canes, walkers, bathtub bars, etc.
- Living in a residential care home.
- Loss of a loved one.
When we feel anxious, it becomes harder to think straight as the pathways that send information to our brain tighten up. Meditation helps us to relax and allows our brain to process a more logical approach to the situation we’re experiencing. Meditation can help you to feel at peace, slow down your breathing, and let go of the tension and anxiety that you’re holding inside your body.
Dealing with stress
Any change that occurs in our lives can lead to stress. Physical changes and changing family dynamics can be a huge trigger for stress among seniors, as well as loss of independence and less control over your environment.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to find ways to manage your stress levels to reduce the risk of serious health conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
Mindfulness meditation changes the structure of the brain and helps us to handle stress in a more effective way. Meditation is said to reduce our body’s immediate response to stress by shrinking the amygdala cells in our brain, which are responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. Practicing meditation helps to alter our perception too, so we see situations in a more clear and positive way.
Feeling the occasional sadness or blues is normal among seniors, however lasting feelings of depression shouldn’t be left untreated. Many factors can contribute to the development of depression as we age, such as traumatic events like the loss of a loved one, limited mobility, transition into retirement, illness, or changing finances.
No one treatment works for everyone, but there are many benefits of meditation for seniors dealing with depression. In fact, some find meditation to be just as effective as medication in managing their symptoms. Mindfulness meditation helps to decrease worrisome thoughts and increase awareness of your feelings. By focusing on your breathing and bringing your attention to the present moment, you can manage your symptoms, become more compassionate towards yourself and others, and replace your negative thoughts with more positive emotions.
There are many benefits of meditation for seniors, and a simple mindfulness or other meditation practice can have such a powerful impact on your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
To your health!
Always check with your primary healthcare practitioner to ensure that any new practice is right for you, especially if you plan to reduce medications.