Mindfulness is a great practice that can provide physical, emotional, and social benefits.
The world’s senior population is rapidly growing, which is why the issues regarding their health and well-being are becoming much more important. The World Health Organization points out that the world’s senior population will rise from 12% to 22% by 2050. Recognizing current health, social, and economic issues, older adults can tap into different strategies to improve their quality of life and enhance their overall health and well-being.
What are the benefits of mindfulness for older adults?
Mindfulness is a great practice that can provide physical, emotional, and social benefits. Older adults can improve their quality of life by practicing mindfulness. (However, this should not replace health recommendations from qualified healthcare professionals.) Mindfulness has a number of great benefits for people of all ages but especially for older adults.
Decreased cognitive decline
Due to age-related cognitive changes, about 6.2 million senior citizens in America struggle with Alzheimer’s or dementia. However, you can combat Alzheimer’s by preventing its onset or by managing it. To illustrate, a daily 12-minute session of meditation or yoga has been proven effective at improving memory and cognitive function. With regular meditation practice, you can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s or dementia as well as enjoy improved focus and memory.
Reduced risk against chronic illnesses
Besides slowing down the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia, mindfulness training can also reduce your risk for multiple chronic illnesses. In fact, individuals who practiced yoga regularly were found to have lower blood pressure than their counterparts. This significantly lowers one's risk of cardiovascular disease. Meanwhile, meditation was also discovered to help in diabetes management because it decreases the stress that can affect one’s weight, glycemic control, and blood pressure control.
Heightened relief from body pain
You may experience frequent body pain, due to the weakening of your bones, tissues, or muscles. While this may be a part of the aging process, a book on mindfulness benefits revealed that this practice can be a remedy for body pain. Author Jon Kabat-Zinn is a medical researcher who discovered that mindfulness can transform your experience with pain. Through the proper practice of mindfulness meditation, you can enhance your pain management practices and alleviate the aches in your body.
Improved mental well-being
Mindfulness practices are known to be very effective in improving mental wellness. A study on BMC Geriatrics about older adults’ perspectives on mindfulness revealed that the participants experienced positive mental and emotional changes after mindful movement, mindful walking, and sitting meditation activities. The participants even stated that they felt less anger, tension, and frustration. Moreover, some participants felt more confident since they developed more discipline, self-encouragement, and determination from mindfulness practices.
Lowered stress levels
Apart from boosting your mental well-being, you can also manage your stress levels through mindfulness. A guide to meditation and mindfulness highlighted that you only need to set aside ten minutes per day so that you can relieve your stress. Former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe stated that simple exercises can go a long way when it comes to calming the chatter inside your mind. By learning how to tune out negative perceptions, older adults can feel calmer and stress-free in their everyday lives.
Enhanced social connections
On top of all these health benefits, regular mindfulness practitioners also experience improvements in their social connections. Since mindfulness practices make individuals feel more calm and relaxed, practitioners reported feeling more understanding towards others. Moreover, mindfulness encourages individuals to appreciate the present moment, so you can become more alert and grateful during social interactions.
Mindfulness is a practice that can create improved health and wellness outcomes. However, it should not be singled out as a sole solution for health concerns or mental well-being. While mindfulness is proven to be effective, you should consult with a healthcare professional for more serious conditions.