Meditation for Seniors -Slowing down may just improve their health! – Dr Sam A. Mielcarski, DPT

Seniors often report feeling frustrated when unable to function as well as they used to. A common complaint is that daily tasks seem to take much longer due to a decline in mental and physical faculties. As such, it’s not uncommon for seniors to experience depression. If this condition is treated with anti-depressant medications, it can often compound problems due to the neurotoxic side effects of these drugs. However, meditation, instead of medication, might provide a better solution.1

There have been several hundred studies completed that show the wide variety of health benefits meditation can have on one’s physiological, psychological and sociological well-being. 2-3 Long-term meditation practice is associated with altered resting electroencephalogram patterns, suggestive of long lasting changes in brain activity. Meditation practice has also been shown to produce changes in the brain’s physical structure. Magnetic resonance imaging has shown that brain regions associated with attention, interoception and sensory processing (including the prefrontal cortex and right anterior insula) were thicker in meditation participants than in matched controls. Between-group differences in prefrontal cortical thickness were most pronounced in older participants, which suggests that meditation might offset age-related cortical thinning.4

Some of the proven health benefits of meditation:

* Improved mental and physical health: decreased levels of stress and tension, decline in hospitalization as well as need for out-patient medical care, decreased rates of disease, decreased overall health care costs, reduced use of alcohol and other drugs, improved cardiovascular health, reduced complaints of physical ailments, enhanced energy, strength and overall feelings of well-being, improved vegetative functioning, improved quality of sleep, decreased pain levels, looking and feeling younger and increased longevity.
* Improved cognitive functioning: improved intelligence, better creativity, enhanced learning ability, improved memory, improved reaction time, higher levels of moral reasoning, improved academic achievement, greater orderliness of brain functioning and improvements in self-actualization.
* Improved social behavior: improved self-confidence, decreased anxiety, improved family life, improved relationships at home and at work, better social tolerance, improved job performance and increased job satisfaction. Read more