Meditation has been practiced for centuries, sometimes as a faith-based experience, sometimes as a group experience, and often as a mindfulness practice of calming oneself and connecting not only with oneself, but the world around one.
If you have an aging parent, they might be interested in starting a regular meditation routine to reap some of the many benefits of meditation. Your parent can practice meditation alone, with a caregiver such as yourself or an elder care provider, or in a group setting. It won’t take long for your parent to begin to see many of these positive health benefits in her life.
Longer Attention Span
Meditating is like a type of weightlifting for your parent’s attention span. It increases strength and endurance. Many people who listen to meditation tapes find that their ability to stay focused on tasks and details increases.
The improved focus your parent will gain through regular meditation may boost her memory and mental clarity. These improvements have been shown to help fight age-related memory loss and dementia.
Many people start meditation to help deal with stress. Being stressed can increase a body’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can release inflammatory chemicals called cytokines, which disrupt sleep, increase anxiety, increase blood pressure, and contribute to fatigue and cloudy thinking. By practicing mindfulness meditation, cortisol levels often drop and produce calm in the person practicing meditation.
Much like stress, meditation reduces anxiety in those who regularly practice it. By mindfully focusing the brain on calming sounds, images, or phrases, your parent may feel her body relaxing and the anxiety that she has had melting away. Many meditative practices also include focused breathing which relaxes the body as well.
If your parent has an addiction she is trying to quit – whether it’s smoking, overeating, or another addiction, she may find practicing meditation will help her with the stress and anxiety that often comes with trying to quit an addiction. Having someone support her with her desire to quit, such as an elder care provider, as well as regularly focusing inward through meditation, can be added steps to conquering whatever addiction she is trying to break.
Meditation For Better Sleep
Mindfulness-based meditation helps individuals stay asleep longer and reduces the severity of insomnia. If your parent can become skilled in meditation, it will help her control those racing thoughts that often lead to insomnia. It also helps relax the body by releasing tension and placing a person in a peaceful state of mind. Your parent may find she’ll want to meditate right before bedtime if poor sleep is something she struggles with.
Meditation For Pain Control
While meditation doesn’t necessarily take away the pain, it can help in how your parent reacts to pain, and oftentimes, that reaction is what determines how severe or debilitating pain can be. Meditation can reduce the perception of pain in the brain. This may help alleviate chronic pain when used in addition to medical care or physical therapy.
Use National Meditation Month to have your parent (and maybe yourself as well) give meditation a try and see what benefits it can have for your parent and you.