Below is another great post from Richard Wright. Its focus is on senior citizens and their caregivers using mindfulness meditation and yoga to improve their mental and physical health while participating in an activity they are both involved in.
I have practiced mindfulness meditation for several years now. Every day, after my morning exercises and stretches, I will meditate. I’ll often meditate again in the early afternoon. Stretching, along with daily exercise is beneficial for all of us living with Kennedy’s Disease (SBMA).
Many senior centers and YMCAs offer programs in stretching, yoga, and mindfulness meditation. For the self-starters, Richard has included links to sources on the internet that offer podcasts on these topics.
Let me reemphasize the important side benefit of “participating together.” Living with any debilitating disorder is difficult for the individual as well as the caregiver. It can also be a rewarding experience, especially when activities are done together. Thank you, Richard.
This Is How Yoga and Meditation Can Transform the Lives of Seniors (And Their Caregivers)
Without proper stimulation and health-boosting activities, the lives of seniors and their caregivers can quickly become monotonous. There’s nothing wrong with having a routine, but it should include activities to get your blood flowing, improve strength, expand your mind, and relieve stress. You might be wondering how you’ll have time to achieve all those goals, but the good news is that yoga and meditation provide all of those things and more. In addition, they are activities the two of you can enjoy together or alone, which can help foster a healthy bond.
Yoga Offers Senior-Specific Benefits
When done safely and properly, yoga provides many wonderful benefits for seniors and caregivers alike. For starters, it can help strengthen bones to minimize, prevent, or slow the progression of osteoporosis, as well as keep your weight in check to prevent it from interfering with your mobility and desire for a more active lifestyle. Yoga is a low-impact exercise with a focus on slow, fluid movements, which can help seniors build strength and balance.
There are benefits for the mind, as well. Most styles of yoga include focused breathing and meditation, which can help seniors and caregivers keep their mind clear and sharp. Additionally, this practice can spike the brain's production of GABA, the chemical that keeps you calm and relaxed. Yoga requires instruction and guidance to keep you safe, so classes at your local yoga studio are the best place to start. However, if you’re looking to get a group of seniors together with a shared interest in yoga, try a senior meetup group.
Meditation Can Stave Off Loneliness
Just like wrinkles and gray hair come with age, loneliness is common in seniors. Perhaps loved ones have passed away or children, family members, and friends no longer live close by. Loneliness has other impacts too. According to Psych Central, “loneliness is known to activate inflammatory genes which, in turn, are known to promote a variety of diseases” However, the study found that mindfulness meditation reduced feelings of loneliness in seniors via regular class attendance, and even reduced the genes that are markers for heart disease and inflammation. Meditation is an integral part of yoga, but it can be practiced on its own as well. There are several beginner podcasts online that will walk you through a meditation session.
Commit to the Practice
Yoga and meditation require dedication and consistent practice. There will be some days when getting to a class isn’t possible, or perhaps you’d just like to be able to practice at home once you learn the proper technique. To achieve this, you’ll need to clear out a room to give you enough space to safely and comfortably practice. It is best to create a dedicatedspace, as you’ll likely grow tired of having to move around furniture and items every time you want to practice. If need be, move some of your belongings into storage to free up space. Incorporate soothing sounds, scents, colors, and lighting for a truly zen experience.
Safety Comes First
Whether you are practicing yoga, meditation, or both, safety should always be your top priority. Yoga is appropriate for all ages, but seniors will benefit from gentle classes such as Iyengar, Viniyoga, and Kripalu. Most yoga studios offer gentle/beginner classes and can help you adapt the poses using chairs and props. As the caregiver, it is your job to communicate with the instructor about the needs and abilities of your senior loved one. This includes disclosing physical and mental ailments, as well as their mood for the day.
Life can be difficult at times for both seniors and caregivers. For this very reason, self-care is crucial. Yoga and meditation combine physical and mental health benefits for a relaxing activity the two of you can explore together.