Aug 18, 2017

Tips For Caregivers: How Mindfulness Can Help Your Aging Parent

Everyone is looking for a little more calm in their life, but what if this calm could be life changing? For your aging parents, this might be the case. If you are the caregiver of an elderly loved one, then you should know that some experts believe mindfulness could be the key to a more fulfilling life. By encouraging your parent to incorporate mindful practices into their life, you may give them the gift of calm and energy.

What is mindfulness?

Based on Buddhist meditation practices, mindfulness is the art of being completely present in the moment. This practice includes controlled breathing and sharpened attention. While meditation practices can take years to fully master, mindfulness can involve simply sitting and focusing on breath for one to five minutes.

"The goal of mindfulness is to make life itself a meditation and to become mindful and in control in every waking moment, even in difficult or boring times -- like washing the dishes, changing the cat litter, or commuting in a particularly congested rush hour," Jeff Anderson writes in A Place For Mom.

This practice is thought to ease the effects of anxiety, depression, chronic pain, and other illnesses. By introducing this practice into their daily life, your parent can begin to feel more in control of their lives.

How can mindfulness help my aging parent?

The following are just some of the ways that your elderly relative may benefit from implementing mindfulness practices into their daily lives.

  • Improved Mood: A UCLA study found that meditation decreased feelings of loneliness in seniors. And these benefits can trickle into other positive emotions as well. You may notice that your parent is more optimistic and open.
  • Increased Body Awareness: Much like yoga, mindfulness increases the practitioner's knowledge of their own body sensations. This may improve coordination and decrease falls and related injuries. And while fractures are treated in four out of five urgent care centers, one study found that meditation may actually decrease hospital visits.
  • Lowered Alzheimer's Risk: Some studies have found that meditation and breathing exercises may actually slow the progression of Alzheimer's, according to A Place For Mom. This may be because these practices reduce stress and anxiety, factors that can actually speed up the onset of Alzheimer's.
  • Increased Presence: Since mindfulness actually helps people bring themselves to the present moment, you may notice that your loved one is less out of it than they normally might be. This may be due to peaked awareness, improved mood, or other factors.

How can I encourage my parent to practice mindfulness?

Studies have shown that 81% of seniors cited good health as the key ingredient to a happy retirement. But some older people are better at prioritizing their health than others. To encourage your loved one to practice mindfulness, you might consider leading by example. Perhaps it is something that you can both try to implement in your lives. Remember that a little accountability goes a long way when it comes to life improvements.

When caring for your loved one's health, taking a holistic approach can revolutionize their well being. Mindfulness can have an important role in this. To learn more about this practice and its benefits for older people, check out this mindfulness guide from My Aging Parent. Here you will find a step-by-step guide to mindfulness meditation. Now all you have to do is help your parent get started.

Kelsey Rausch is a writer and an avid world traveler. When she's not writing or listening to 80s music, you can find her exploring different countries, taking selfies with her dog Lady, and in constant search for the perfect brownie recipe.

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