Elderly students in my online meditation lessons have asked about using meditation for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Many people suffer from dementia. And if you’re one of them or you care for someone with dementia, you know what it’s like. Struggling to think straight or remember things can seriously reduce our quality of life.
Fortunately, it is possible to use meditation for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Indeed, researchers have found significant benefits of meditation for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
What Are Meditation And Dementia And How Does Meditation Help Seniors?
The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as, “an overall term — like heart disease — that covers a wide range of specific medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease… [It is] caused by abnormal brain changes.” There are various forms of dementia, including:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Vascular dementia
- Lewy body dementia
- Fronto-temporal dementia
- Mixed dementia
The Alzheimer’s Association states that dementia is marked by an impaired ability to remember, think, and make decisions.
According to the World Health Organization, 50 million people have dementia, and there are over 10 million new cases annually. Sadly, it is also on the rise. Experts estimate there will nearly 14 million people with dementia in the U.S alone by 2060.
Many people believe that dementia is a natural part of ageing. However, this is not the case according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They state that dementia and Alzheimer’s are related to poor health, brain trauma, and other medical conditions.
But don’t worry.
It is possible to use meditation for dementia prevention and as part of treatment.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a mental health practice in which we focus the mind on the present moment. Originally a Hindu and Buddhist practice it is now a holistic treatment backed by scientists. And although stemming from other religions, it is perfectly suitable for Christians too.
When it comes to meditating, you have many options:
- Breathing meditations
- Buddhist meditations
- Christian meditation
- Guided meditation.
- And many more options.
Best Meditation For Seniors Dementia
- Sit comfortably with good posture. Make sure you are relaxed.
- Take one deep breath in to a count of four. Pause momentarily. Now breathe out to a count of four. Pause. And again inhale.
- Watch your breath move around your body as you breathe in the way described above.
- Count ten breaths. Then take a moment and reflect on how you are feeling. Then start from the beginning, counting another ten breaths.
- Aim to simply observe the breath, without judging anything.
Benefits of Meditation for Seniors With Dementia and Alzheimer’s
A healthy lifestyle helps with dementia and Alzheimer’s according to Help Guide. For instance, a healthy diet, regular exercise, and social contact can all help with dementia and Alzheimer’s. And meditation can too.
Indeed, recent research shows that Integrated Body Mind Therapy can help alleviate the signs and symptoms of dementia.
Dr. Kim Innes, a professor at West Virginia University School of Public Health in Morgantown, led the study. She and her colleagues assessed a group of older adults with impaired memory. She instructed the adults to meditate to music or to do a simple yoga meditation called Kirtan Kriya meditation for twelve minutes per day for 12 weeks.
Dr. Innes took blood samples before the study and after the 3 months of therapy. The results showed changes in certain markers related to cell aging and Alzheimer’s disease. The markers included telomere length, telomerase activity, and levels of certain beta-amyloid peptides.
Interestingly, the group that had practised Kirtan Kriya meditation had better results than the group that had listened to music.
This is just the latest in a line of research. Overall, there are significant benefits of meditation for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Research by Gaëlle Desbordes at Boston University shows that meditation helps with dementia by improving memory.
In a study, Desbordes taught participants meditation. When compared to a control group, the meditators experienced heightened activity in the right amygdala. This is a part of the brain involved with memory processing.
A study by Boston University shows that meditation also strengthens the cerebral cortex. The cerebral cortex is involved with concentration, learning, and memory.
Plus, meditation increases blood flow to the brain, and this helps to alleviate the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s. [READ: Meditation for Memory Power].
Decision Making & Clarity of Mind
Another benefit of meditation for dementia and Alzheimer’s is that it helps with clarity of mind. Plus, it enhances our ability to make decisions.
Meditation relaxes the mind and reduces the effects of information overload, which is one of the most common causes of poor decision making and brain fog.
Meditation also strengthens the cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. These are the main parts of the brain used in decision making. [READ: Meditation For Decision Making & Clarity of Mind].
As you can see, there are significant cognitive benefits of meditation. And many of them relate to dementia and Alzheimer’s.
The cognitive benefits of meditation have been proven through significant scientific research. And many of these benefits relate to dementia.
Overall, meditation helps with dementia and Alzheimer’s by strengthening the brain. In turn, this improves clarity of mind, thinking, decision making, and memory.
If you would like to learn to meditate properly, book an online meditation lesson with me today.
Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison