A New Look at an Ancient Health Tool

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If the last time you thought about meditation was when the Beatles made the White Album  – you’re in for a surprise. Research shows that sometimes meditation can be almost as effective as medication.

Meditation Benefits Older Adults 

Research keeps growing on meditation’s benefits, from boosting the immune system to easing depression to helping mild high blood pressure  –  and many of those benefits focus on adults over age 60, says Stephanie Cheng, MD, assistant professor of clinical medicine at UCSF. Cheng suggests her patients consider meditation and its benefits, especially, she says, because  “One of the most powerful is the stress reduction aspect.”

Amid so many so many potential stressors (bad news and the pandemic, to name a few), accessing something so portable, readily available and helpful is incredibly powerful, Cheng offers.

Participate in a guided meditation session with Senior Planet Trainer, Pat Whitty.

Mindfulness and meditation

“Mindfulness is one form of meditation, “ Cheng points out. “It’s described as ‘’paying attention on purpose, and being in the present moment with an open, accepting attitude without judgment.” Mindfulness can take many forms and any activity can be done mindfully, even getting dressed, waiting in line or waiting for your doctor’s appointment.

Even five minutes of meditation in the morning helps people start the day on the right foot.

Meditation is described as a more formal practice of quieting the mind and body, often while sitting relaxed with eyes closed. While people may think they need many minutes or even an hour for meditation, that’s not true. The internet is full of five-minute meditations to try.

Cheng, who regularly meditates for 15 minutes, points out that “Even five minutes of meditation in the morning helps people start the day on the right foot. It makes people feel more resilient.” While it won’t change the events of the day, she says it will change how you respond to those events.

Participate in a supported meditation session with Senior Planet Trainer, Tina Wang.

Meditation Benefits 

Among the benefits of meditation or mindfulness for older adults, reported in the last five years or less:

  • Walking meditation may be comparable to balance training to improve balance abilities in older adults who have had falls.
  • Virtual reality meditation could reduce chronic pain in older adults with osteoarthritis of the knee.
  • For some, meditation, along with yoga, could be an alternative to blood pressure medication, but the benefit varies by age and severity of the blood pressure problem.
  • Meditation and mind-body exercise, when done longer than 12 weeks and workouts are three to seven times a week for 45-60 minutes each, may improve cognitive ability in those age 60 and up.
  • Mindfulness meditation, compared with no meditation, improved depression, a review of 19 published studies found.
  • Virtual reality meditation reduced chronic pain in older adults with knee osteoarthritis enough so they could participate in everyday activities more up to 48 hours after the session.

Participate in a mindful meditation session with Senior Planet Trainer, Cas Castro.

Want to Try Meditation? 

Sound good?  Join Team Senior Planet’s free weekly online Meditation and Mindful Breathing session on Thursdays at 2pm EST and start reaping the benefits. Want to get in on the next class?  Details are here.

Kathleen Doheny is a Los Angeles-based independent journalist, specializing in health, behavior, fitness and lifestyle stories. Besides writing for Senior Planet, she reports for WebMD, Medscape, Endocrine Web, Practical Pain Management, Spine Universe and other sites.  She is a mom, mother-in-law and proud and happy Mimi who likes to hike, jog and shop.

Doheny photo: Shaun Newton

This article offered by Senior Planet and Older Adults Technology Services is for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911.

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