Meditation has existed for thousands of years, and it’s clear why the practice is so popular. So many people have used meditation to clear their minds, alleviate stress, and feel more in-tune with their bodies. One of the greatest benefits of meditation is its accessibility. No one is too old or too young for meditation, and you don’t need any equipment to get started. All you need is a quiet space and a willingness to try something new.
Meditation can be particularly powerful for older adults because of its emotional and cognitive benefits. If you’re looking for a new form of self-care or a way to improve your mental health, meditation could be a great addition to your life. While you might not experience profound health benefits from meditating once, incorporating meditation into your daily routine can lead to long-term improvements in your health.
The Following Are Some of the Key Benefits of Meditation for Seniors
Anxiety is an especially common mental health concern among seniors. Some older adults experience anxiety in response to a difficult life event, such as a health scare or the loss of a spouse, and others experience chronic anxiety for no clear reason. Not only is anxiety uncomfortable to live with, but it can also be harmful for your physical health.
Many seniors find that meditation is a powerful stress reliever. During your meditation, you’re focusing only on how your body feels in that moment in time. By checking in with your body, you take the first steps toward regulating your breathing, heart rate, and the other physical markers of stress.
Anxiety is often a result of frequent worry about the past or the future. If you regularly find yourself ruminating about what could happen or what has already happened, meditation could be a great way for you to practice turning off those anxious thoughts.
Getting adequate sleep is one of the best ways to protect your overall health. As you age, falling asleep and staying asleep can become more difficult. Fortunately, meditation may help to regulate your sleep cycles and achieve deeper and more consistent sleep.
One study analyzed the effects of mindfulness meditation on sleep compared to the effects of sleep hygiene education. The participants who practiced mindfulness meditation showed reduced insomnia, fatigue, and depression. Because meditation relaxes your body and regulates your nervous system, it may help you calm down before you go to sleep, which will improve your sleep quality.
Reduces Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can be devastating for older adults. Mild pain can cause discomfort and agitation as you try to navigate your daily life, and severe pain can make it impossible for you to take care of yourself. Pain management is a major concern for seniors, but many older adults are hesitant to take pain medications or undergo other treatments that have harsh side effects.
Although meditation doesn’t treat the underlying condition causing your pain, it may help to reduce your perception of pain. One study found that people with chronic pain showed an improvement in their overall quality of life after 2.5 years of participating in a mindfulness meditation program. Another reported that a mindfulness-based stress reduction program helped participants achieve significant improvement in their pain levels, mood, and functional capacity.
Increases Attention Span
Mild cognitive decline is typical with age, but you can take steps to sharpen your mind. Guided meditation can be an excellent way to increase your attention span and improve your ability to focus on tasks. When you meditate, your goal is to focus entirely on one subject, such as your breathing, your body sensations, or your emotions. By spending a prolonged amount of time focusing on one area, you become better at staying on-task without allowing your thoughts to wander away.
A longer attention span has numerous benefits for your day-to-day life. You’ll find it easier to complete tasks in one sitting without becoming distracted, and you may even notice that you’re able to follow lengthy conversations more easily.
A strong memory is important at any age, but you may be more aware of your memory as you get older. Occasional lapses in memory are completely normal for aging adults, but these moments of forgetfulness can be frustrating and discouraging. Strengthening your memory is one of the best ways for you to maintain your independence later in life.
Meditation may help to boost your memory because it increases blood flow to the areas of the brain responsible for sustained attention and executive functioning. Just like meditation strengthens your cognitive health by increasing your attention span, it could also help you retain and recall information.
Meditation exercise is a meaningful way to improve your overall quality of life, which can have a dramatic impact on your mood. People who meditate regularly tend to be calmer, more self-aware, and more accepting of the world around them.
Meditation requires you to take time out of your day for yourself. For 10 or 15 minutes each day, your only job is to check in with yourself and how you feel. If you’re used to rushing through your life without self-reflecting, meditation may be your opportunity to finally devote time to your mental and emotional health. This can elevate your mood and lead to a stronger sense of happiness and satisfaction.
Seniors can find a wide variety of health benefits in meditation. The practice can reduce the physical symptoms of stress and chronic pain, strengthen your cognitive skills, and improve your mental health. Meditation is also an easy technique to get started with. It only takes a few minutes to complete a mindfulness guided meditation, but one meditation exercise could lay the groundwork for years of successful practice.
Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy services for elderly adults struggling with mental health disorders, grief, chronic health issues, and other challenges. You can contact us today to schedule a meeting with a counselor in your area.