Mindfulness as a Coping Mechanism
The goal of mindfulness meditation is to increase attention and awareness of the present. It helps seniors focus on and accept their current abilities. It gets them away from thoughts about what they used to do and can't anymore, and instead brings acceptance of their current state. This allows them to be more flexible about current choices, grateful for their current abilities, and resilient in coping with today's challenges.
Kristoffer Rhodes, PhD, a neuropsychologist specializing in dementia and neurodegenerative disorders, cites studies showing that just 8 weeks of meditation improves attention, problem solving, learning and memory. Aside from improved brain function, short mindful meditation sessions reduce anxiety, frustration and depression.
Research shows it also benefits caregivers in that it reduces stress, improves mood and increases thinking abilities. Yoga can also be a used as a form of meditation.
Mindworks offers these tips for seniors who are interested in meditation.
● You don't need to sit like a pretzel on the floor! Meditation can be done in a chair, while walking, or along with a focused exercise such as yoga or tai chi.
● If you're not sure how to get started, try a guided meditation or body scan that you can listen to as you relax.
● Keep it short. Mini-sessions of a minute or two may be best to start, working up to about 20 minutes per day as you can. These are available at the Mindworks website and other online resources.
● Use an anchor word or sentence. A favorite prayer, mantra or motivational phrase can help you center and focus, and will be something that you can go back to in times of stress to help you calm down and re-center.
Meditation is not cure-all, but it can help battle the confusion and agitation that sometimes comes with aging, and it can open the door for seniors who are resistant or anxious about receiving care for Alzheimer's, dementia or memory loss.
Senior Helpers serves Northwest Indiana, providing a variety of options for assisting your aging loved ones to stay happy and independent at home. They offer part and full-time in-home care, senior companionship, and help with daily activities. Contact us to schedule an in-home care assessment to decide what services best suit your needs.