Meditation—it’s not just a trendy exercise for 20-somethings. There are both physical and mental benefits useful for seniors and their caregivers. Are you ready to introduce meditation for seniors into your care relationship?
Why Should I Introduce Meditation for Seniors?
Scientists have discovered that a regular meditation practice can help to reduce blood pressure, increase feelings of happiness, and boost productivity. For seniors in particular, mediation:
- Requires no physical activity. No matter how active your senior is, they’ll still be able to practice. Almost all meditation styles can be performed sitting in a chair or lying down—perfect for seniors with limited mobility.
- Reduces levels of stress and confusion. Are you caring for a senior with dementia or early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease? Meditation can help seniors calm their mind while keeping confusion and stress levels low.
- Helps the brain stay healthy. While aging is something that can’t be stopped, the effects of aging are often something that can be slowed. Regular meditation practice aids in reducing the development of dementia and early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
- Decreases feelings of depression. It’s no secret that seniors are at risk for feelings of loneliness and depression as their needs change. Meditating on their situation can help them accept the changes they are going through without feeling the need to withdraw.
What’s in It for Me as a Caregiver?
Meditation isn’t just for seniors either. As a caregiver, you deserve to take some time to yourself and take advantage of the health benefits of meditating. Remember:
- You’ll lower your stress levels. Regular practice helps you find calm in moments where there wasn’t before. It’s a great resource to draw on when you feel your energy tank running low.
- You don’t have to set a time limit. If you ever find yourself short on time, you can still fit meditation in. Closing your eyes and breathing for 5, 3, or even 1 minute will help calm your mind and body.
- You’ll sleep better at night. Sleep is a caregiver’s best friend, but most caregivers don’t get enough. Regular meditation will help your mind calm down, letting you sleep better at night.
- You’ll have something in common. Some days, it can be hard for caregivers and their loved ones to connect. Try sitting down and practicing a meditation together. It is something they can do independently with you by their side.
What Are the Best Meditation Styles for Seniors and Caregivers?
A quick internet search will reveal a wide variety of meditation styles and resources. Rather than being overwhelmed, start by giving the below suggestions a try. If one style isn’t doing it for you, move on to the next. With a little trial and error, you can find the style that works best for you.
- iRest Yoga Nidra®: Founded by Richard C. Miller, Ph.D., iRest was created to help reduce PTSD. However, its benefits are for anyone, with a deep guided relaxation that you and your senior can do sitting or lying down.
- Transcendental Meditation®: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi brought this powerful meditation style to America. It’s a simple practice, with two meditations each day for 20 minutes. If you’re getting started, look for a certified teacher near you to learn the ropes.
- Mantra Meditation: Chanting mantras for meditation is similar to counting the rosary. Most chanting meditations can be done in 30, 10, or even 5 minutes. Check in with a teacher or your local meditation center for recommendations, especially if your loved one is sensitive to sound.
- Breathing Meditation: Meditating on the breath is one of the most basic and profound meditation styles. All that’s required is sitting or lying still while deeply breathing in and out. Use a count to help make the inhalations and exhalations the same length.
I Can’t Wait to Meditate!
Meditation isn’t just a fad—its results can be long lasting. You and your senior will be calmer, happier, and more at ease with each other. Give it a shot—you’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain.
Tracy Layden is a Certified Aging in Place Specialist. Born and raised in Silicon Valley, Tracy leads the marketing efforts at Alert-1, a personal safety technology and consulting firm dedicated to helping seniors live safely and independently. Tracy holds a degree in mathematics from Scripps College and is an accomplished ballroom dancer and equestrian.