With the pandemic still plaguing the world, many older adults have become more concerned and protective of their physical health, and for good reasons.
However, this does not mean that you should forget about another essential aspect of your well-being, which is equally important–your mental health.
The mind needs exercise just like your body if you want to keep it in good shape. One effective way to do that is to engage in mindfulness meditation.
You have probably heard the term “mindfulness” being used by yoga instructors, self-help gurus, and psychologists. But what does it truly mean? More importantly, what is the benefit of mindfulness for seniors?
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been around for decades but has resurfaced when taught and recommended by doctors to people suffering from mental illnesses.
Mindfulness refers to the practice of being aware, conscious, and focused on the present. It helps you stay grounded and live in the current moment despite any troubling and negative thoughts. Some mindfulness exercises and activities include:
- Meditation therapy
- Yoga or tai chi
- Breathing exercises
- Walking and environmental meditation
- Expanding awareness
Mindfulness exercises may involve different techniques, but they all have the same endpoint–helping you focus on the “now,” away from all your stresses and burdens.
Besides bettering mental health, studies suggest that it also aids in restoring your physical, emotional, and social well-being. Here are just some of the essential benefits of mindfulness for seniors like you.
1. Boosts Cognitive Abilities
One of the most dreaded consequences of aging is the slow cognitive decline of the brain. As you age, your mind also ages, causing it to become less sharp than before. This phenomenon can occur to all seniors age 65 and above, increasing progress as you let it consume the mind unattended.
Fortunately, studies found that preventive measures such as mindfulness meditation and exercises can slow down and even halt its progress. Moreover, it can enhance your cognitive skills even more, such as:
- Memory and concentration
- Learning and other executive functions
- Planning and problem-solving
- Processing and retaining information
- Controlling emotions
2. Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
An increasing cognitive function significantly reduces your risks of developing neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Mindfulness works by relaxing and calming the brain, allowing the release of certain hormones to help those with cognitive impairment.
It also decreases chronic stress, which has a considerable bearing in increasing one’s likelihood of developing dementia and its other forms.
For seniors already experiencing dementia, mindfulness can help slow the disease’s progress and improve its debilitating symptoms.
3. Fights Insomnia
According to studies, seniors need about seven to nine hours of sleep every night to maintain a healthy mind and body. Fewer hours than that results in declining physical health, lousiness, increasing cranky mood, unproductiveness, and slow mental function.
Sleep deprivation also contributes to stress and irritability, which only predisposes you to different mood disorders, like depression and anxiety.
Engaging in mindfulness–even a 10-minute exercise per day–calms and relaxes your brain. It won’t take away the problems that keep you up at night, may it be a financial matter or a relationship dilemma.
What it will do is teach you to acknowledge the problem but not dwell on it. Process and accept each thought and emotion without judgment. Clear the mind of all impulsive decisions and rash choices to make way for a deliberate and well-thought-out plan.
Moreover, mindfulness meditation helps release bodily tension, lowers blood pressure, and slows the heartbeat. With a peaceful mind and body, you will be able to relax and succumb to a deep sleep every night.
4. Enhances Emotional Well-Being
Mindfulness meditation allows you to view and embrace your thoughts and emotions as it is. It trains the mind to move beyond these uncontrollable situations and accept that they are beyond your reach.
This form of acceptance allows your emotions not to be controlled by stray thoughts and unfavorable circumstances. You won’t be overwhelmed, distracted, nor distraught, thus keeping you emotionally healthy.
This leads to several positive advantages, such as:
- Improved mood
- Increased energy levels
- Enhanced relationship satisfaction
- Less emotional reactivity and ruminations
- Fully engaged in social interactions
5. Improves Physical Health
Practicing mindfulness may seem like an enriching activity that benefits the mind alone. However, many published studies have proven otherwise.
Many scientists have found that mindfulness helps keep the heart healthy by promoting good blood circulation and blood pressure. Daily meditation also contributes to the significant decrease of fat substances in the blood. Other physical benefits of mindfulness for seniors include:
- Stronger immune function
- Improves digestion and gut health
- Reduces the occurrence of unwanted inflammation
- Decreases chronic pain
- Reduces risks of any heart diseases
Furthermore, some of the mindfulness techniques, such as yoga and walking meditation, can double as a form of exercise for seniors. Thus, strengthening your bones and retaining the muscles’ flexibility.
6. Longer Life
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, seniors who meditate daily have an increased lifespan than those who don’t.
When you meditate, you tend to make sound and fruitful decisions that can result in life longevity. You lean towards positive and beneficial activities such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, and a life without vices.
All of the benefits mentioned above also contribute to your healthy and long life.
7. Adds Quality to Life
More than being focused in the present times, being mindful means being in control of your thoughts and emotions every waking moment.
The moment you wake up, you are already bombarded by many life problems and stresses. But by being mindful, you get to develop a steady mind and deal with them one step at a time.
By allowing only the essential things into your life, you can now enjoy and savor every second of your life, no matter how big or small. You are less caught up in life’s worries and more involved in enriching the best parts of your life.
You have an excellent physical lifestyle, stable mental health, and deep social relationships. All of these add to your ability to lead a quality and satisfactory life.