Aging comes with its fair share of troubles because let’s face it, one is no longer as energetic as before. You also get to have many health issues sneaking in on you and making your life hard.
However, it is not always the case for everyone, especially those who make an effort of taking care of themselves.
Other than physical fitness, meditation is also a good practice for seniors that can help them remain mentally fit and able to get their way around mentally demanding tasks.
Let’s take a closer look at meditation for seniors and how far it goes in their lives.
Seniors And Meditation
There are so many changes that occur in your body once you start aging.
Some of the common changes within the body of an old person include the appearance of wrinkles and other skin related issues, body waste incontinence, disturbed sleep patterns, affected vision, brittle hair and nails, fading of taste and smell, poor memory, weakened immunity, among other health issues.
These changes may not happen with everyone, but when they do, they can negatively affect an individual simply because they are not able to manage their lives as they have been doing in the past.
Luckily, meditation can help through this difficult period because it not only helps you accept these changes but also gives you the strength and clarity on how to manage most of the negative effects they bring.
Various studies, as we will see later on in this article, have shown that the practice is beneficial to seniors and so through daily practice, their mental and physical health can improve greatly.
Some seniors can meditate without needing much help but most of them may not be conversant with the practice, so there is a need for them to be walked through by responsible adults.
The idea behind giving them a hand with meditation is to help them make the practice a daily routine so that they can get to really benefit from it.
Benefits of Meditation For Seniors
Here are some of the benefits that can be reaped by older people from meditation:
√Helps their minds become more focused
Since in old age mental alertness tends to decline, once meditation becomes a regular practice for these individuals, their minds are exercised and as a result, their focus and general cognitive function is improved. Studies show that various meditation practices result in a significant boost in cognitive performance in older adults (1).
√Improve their memory
Old age often comes with memory loss so to help overcome this, meditation can be practiced to increase blood flow in the areas of the brain responsible for memory such as the cerebellum, hippocampus, and amygdala, and with that, they can remember information with ease.
√Help them manage their mood and emotions
With most seniors, unstable moods and emotions are a common occurrence. It’s at this stage that they develop depression and experience other negative emotions for various reasons. So to help them through this comes meditation because it helps them better process how they are feeling.
A major teaching of this practice is that we can all control how we react to what happens in and around us, and it emphasizes the need to stay positive regardless of the situation at hand. Therefore, when seniors regularly meditate, they are able to manage their emotional life as well as stay positive through the challenges they face (2).
√Helps relax and calm them down
When feeling tensed, meditation can be a good tool to release the tension and get into a relaxed state. The breathing exercises and walking activities employed by different meditation styles go a long way.
√Helps with strengthening different parts of the body
Meditation styles like walking meditation and standing meditation can be a good way to strengthen your legs if they are getting weak by the day.
And while they can help you become stronger than you are, you need to approach the practice carefully.
If you are a senior who has problems with your legs, you should aim to do the practice for short periods of time so that you can build gradually build strength to do it for a much longer time.
If you need help, you can get someone to help you as you begin the practice and be there when you need help pushing your body beyond your current limits so that they ensure you do it safely.
√Helps to reduce the mortality rate in older adults
By engaging in meditation, older adults are able to strengthen their immune system that helps them fight diseases that can make their lives difficult or increase their chances of having early death (3)(4).
How Seniors Can Get Started With Meditation
Before they start doing meditation, it is essential that the person understands the practice and the benefits it brings well.
That is why it is recommended that a person explains to them well about the practice and they ensure that the senior who is about to begin the practice knows what they will be improving in their lives.
Due to the fact that seniors cannot be involved in too much physical activity, below are great ideas on how they can engage themselves in meditation in the easiest but best way possible;
√Meditating right from their bed
This can be done when they wake up or about to sleep because it’s really about preference.
Bedrooms are mostly quiet and can be considered great “sanctuaries” for meditation, and they can be given a hand with meditation by someone who knows the practice who they are comfortable with.
However, it is important to make sure that the senior who is meditating is fully awake if they will be doing it when they wake up, or they are not in a position they can easily fall asleep when meditating.
It is okay to let them fall asleep as they are starting out but as they get deeper and deeper into the exercise, they should aim to remain awake throughout the meditation session.
A great meditation technique whilst in bed is the breathing exercise for the purpose of relaxation especially when going to sleep, something that could help one sleep better.
In addition, this trick helps in forming the habit to meditate more often because one will associate the bed with meditation before sleep or on waking up, thus anytime they get there the brain reminds them to meditate.
√Sitting upright on a comfortable chair
If the senior can sit upright on a chair, you can get a good comfortable chair for them to be meditating on. This will help them avoid getting tired easily.
And what the individual can do is assume a comfortable position and then get into breathing exercises, or better yet, be taken through a specific meditation style such as mindfulness meditation or transcendental meditation by an expert.
√Taking a walk
This one doesn’t have to be long because even a short one will be quite beneficial.
The technique is especially helpful because it helps an individual be physically active and additionally, helps with clearing the mind because one is in a new environment.
Walking takes the mind off many things such as stress factors, and so as one moves, they get to appreciate the beauty of nature and focus on the activity at hand which is walking.
Also, it has a relaxing touch to it and so seniors can make use of the method to ease anxiety.
However, for those that cannot go on a walk by themselves, they should be accompanied by a responsible adult preferably one they feel comfortable around to avoid getting lost, or worse, getting into an accident.
√Meditating through meditation apps
Currently, there are so many available meditation apps that seniors can make use of as far as the practice is concerned. Here are a few of them;
This one will help seniors through stress management that is done through guided sessions, sleep music to aid them through sleeping problems, how they can live mindfully, along with other important areas.
And those getting started with the practice will be given a basic course to jumpstart their meditation journey.
Basically, the app has a lot to offer and adds a fun twist to meditating. One can choose to use the free version of the app or for added functionality, they pay for a subscription.
~ Waking Up
This app combines mindfulness and guided meditation to help an individual through daily meditation and thus another great option.
More importantly, the app has a 28-day program that one can get started with, guaranteeing help through daily meditation which aids mental health generally.
Also, seniors can enjoy short talks on knowledge regarding the mind, guided meditation sessions, and other helpful lessons, if they are able to take time to pay attention and understand them.
Calm is yet another app that will help seniors reap the benefits of meditation and is especially helpful in the area of meditation in general as well as the issue of sleep.
The app offers great programs for both beginners and advanced meditators, and the main topics addressed here include, walking meditation, breaking habits, happiness, forgiveness, managing stress, deep sleep (there are actually over 100 adult sleep stories), happiness, gratitude, focus and concentration, relationships and so much more!
The good thing about the app is one can actually track their progress and especially on the time they spend meditating and for the guided meditations, one can choose how long or short they want their session to be.
This one doesn’t just help through mindfulness but also offers great guidance through stress, depression, and anxiety.
It is based on cognitive behavioral therapy, and through it, one gets guided sessions, coping tools, mood tracking on a daily basis, meditations as well as an assessment of one’s progress.
The app is free but one can choose to subscribe for unlimited use of various tools.
~ 10% Happier
This one is based on the book 10% happier book by Dan Harris and especially helps with meditation and sleep.
Through it, seniors can find over 500 guided meditations on various topics, a sleep section to offer help with sleep, weekly updated material on meditation, and quick meditation tricks to help one meditate on the go.
There is a lot to learn from the app so, it will be beneficial.
NOTE: All these apps are available on both IOS and Android devices so one is not limited at all.
√Joining a meditation group
There are those community groups that have been curated specifically for seniors that they can join for additional help through meditation.
These groups motivate them to meditate since they will be around other seniors that are doing the same and they can share their experiences and even better, make friends!
√Reading meditation books
If the senior will not be weighed down by reading, getting into meditation books can also further improve their lives.
There are a number of meditation books out there and since reading in itself is a great way to improve cognition, it’s a great way to approach meditation.
Some of the best books for them include; Mindfulness in Plain English Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, and 10% Happier by Dan Harris, among others.
√Listening to meditation audios such as Meditation for Elderly
Music for Seniors, Yoga, Inner Focus, Positive Feelings, Relaxing Slow Exercises, and Healing Space which can be found on Amazon are great resources to deepen the practice of meditation.
Also, other meditation-based audios from other credible sources will be very resourceful to older adults.
What Research Says About Mindfulness in Seniors
There have been numerous studies on the effect of meditation on older adults in various respects.
A study found out that there are noticeable changes in the brain of meditators as far as memory, empathy, stress, and sense of self are concerned and mindfulness and meditation training have been recommended to health care experts as a way of helping older adults through issues such as anxiety, loneliness, depression, and chronic pain (5).
Another study that involved people around the age of 55 years to 75 years that were taken through mindfulness training for 8 weeks or brain training practices as a control group showed that mindfulness meditation training enhanced their ability to maintain goal-directed visuospatial attention and could be beneficial for handling the mental health decline that comes with old age (6).
Another study done by J. David Creswell from Carnegie Mellon University showed that mindfulness meditation can help bring down the feeling of loneliness and the risk of suffering from different diseases in older people (6).
It was found that the practice may lower high levels of inflammation, which is often linked to the onset and progression of various illnesses.
Another study found that being immersed in meditation for seniors helps them cope with the physical, mental, and emotional changes that happen in their body which makes it easy for them to maintain peace and harmony while all these happen (7).
There are many other studies that show how beneficial meditation is for older people and there are more studies being carried out to help us understand how we can utilize this practice to help us be healthy and happy even as we age.
Ideally, with all that we have discussed here, one thing is certain, and that is, seniors need to meditate because it benefits them in many ways as we have seen.
They don’t need to spend the whole day there because the simple yet effective techniques we have shared here will go along way in helping them embrace the practice in a much easier way.
Younger people as well as those who are middle-aged and conversant on meditation around old people should step up and help them during their sessions, just to ensure that their experience is smooth and fulfilling.
Having said that, feel free to engage more on the topic through the comments section.
More importantly, if you are within the senior age bracket and practicing meditation or around a senior person making use of meditation, let us know your personal experiences with meditation below.