Meditation for Older Adults
For many families and their loved ones, COVID-19 has not only brought on fears of health, safety, and physical wellbeing but also has negatively impacted current living arrangements and relationships among families and loved ones. For older adults, living alone has become even more burdensome as social visits, fitness and exercise, physical therapy visits, and limitations to healthy food options have been limited if not non-existent. Families that have taken on caregiving duties for their loved ones have been experiencing increased anxiety, tension, and a decline in personal health. Meditation during this time has become more important for older adults, their families, and caregivers during this time.
Research supports the many benefits meditation can bring. Meditation can help memory, cognitive abilities, anxiety, stress, loneliness, depression, circulation, and digestion to name a few. The website U.S. News Health section supports these benefits. You can visit the website here U.S. News: Health
Below are a few tips for first-time meditators and beginners as well as different meditation techniques to try. Meditation can be an activity done at home alone or even virtually with your loved one. Start slow, 5 minutes, and build your way up to 15 minutes a day. The more you practice the easier meditation will become and the more beneficial it will be to your overall health.
- Schedule 5 to 15 minutes of your day when you will not be distracted by others, phone calls, or other distracting noises. Think of meditation as a “daily vitamin” that you need to take for your health and let others in your household know you are going to meditate and cannot be bothered at this time. It is important for others in your household to appreciate and understand this time is important for you.
- Get comfortable. Either lay down or sit where your body feels relaxed. You do not need to be in the quintessential meditation poses if your body feels relaxed and comfortable then you are ready for meditation.
- Close your eyes and breathe! Breathe in deeply through your nostrils, filling your stomach with air, to the count of four. If able, hold for a count of four and then release your breath through your mouth to the count of 8. This may take some time to work up to. The idea of meditation is to clear your mind. Focusing on this breathing technique prevents any daydreaming and wandering of thought. Again, the more you practice meditation the more you can clear your mind easily and prevent your thoughts from wandering. Do not be frustrated with many different thoughts coming and going and the complete ability to stop them. This is natural. Just go back to focusing on your breathing and the repetition of the breathing technique
- Slowly open your eyes after your meditation has ended. It is also important to slowly move your body from the position you are in. Like waking from a deep night’s rest, let your body adjust back to the external stimulus.
Types of Meditation
Here are a few types of techniques and ways to meditate.
- Mindfulness Meditation
This relates to being present in your current situation. This type of meditation helps you feel grounded and secure in your current situation. Overthinking, worrying about the future, fears of the future, and appreciation of where we are and what we have is a focus of this meditation.
- Meditation for Anxiety
Imagery and guided meditation are very helpful for anxiety and stress. A trained instructor guides you in a calm voice on how to breathe and an imaginative situation to envision. Through their words and instruction, you can follow along and feel relaxed and at ease at the end of the meditation session.
- Meditation for Sleep
We are all aware of the physical and mental benefits of a good night’s sleep. Still, many of us can attest to needing more sleep and constantly not receiving enough. Personally, I have found that meditation, whereas I am waking 2-3 times throughout the night, is the best way to get back to sleep. I do this with Body Scan meditation techniques. First, I take 3-7 deep breaths using the breathing technique I mentioned above. Second, I start envisioning my feet and toes. Internally I tell my toes to relax. Sometimes I will clench and then relax. I then proceed with every body part I think of, moving slowly from my feet to my legs, from my torso to my neck, and so on. Each body part and area I tell to relax and envision these parts as being weightless. Chakra meditation puts these parts of the body into zones that you can also focus on through meditation. With the Body Scan technique, I am usually fast asleep by the time I reach my head.
By starting with 5 minutes a day and incorporating meditation into your daily schedule, you will be providing the many benefits stated above to not only yourself but the ones you love and care for as well. Meditation truly is a win-win!