Breathe in for four counts… one, two, three, four. Hold for four counts… one, two, three, four. Exhale for four counts… one, two, three, four. If you followed along with your breath – congratulations – you just participated in a simple breathing meditation! More and more, studies are confirming mindfulness and meditation can be extremely positive for people of all ages and stages of life – but even more so for older adults struggling with the symptoms of memory loss. Mindful meditation and other exercises help the brain regulate emotions and manage stress.
Another simple meditation practice may include sitting comfortably in a chair, taking deep breaths through the nose for 10-15 minutes, while keeping the focus of the mind on breathing. Here are just a few of the positive benefits of mindful meditation:
Helps Relax the Mind: In relaxing the mind through repetitive counting, deep breathing, or meditation, the body actively manages its own stress, calming potential anxiety attacks.
Increased Focus and Attention: When suffering from memory loss, individuals may experience some confusion or disorientation. Mindful meditation can help center the body and bring an individual’s focus to the present.
Soothes the Soul: Many of the principles behind mindfulness can become instinctive when practiced with frequency and consistency. Guided by caregivers’ and nurses’ support, individuals can learn to practice this meditation on their own, falling back on it whenever necessary.
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream: When we’re less stressed, we sleep better! Mindful meditation can help individuals with memory loss keep stress at manageable levels and encourage healthier sleep at night – what could be better than that?
Staying In the Moment: In addition to helping reduce anxiety, meditation will support overall wellness by helping individuals stay more in the moment and aware of their surroundings, providing a greater sense of control.
Give it a try! Guided meditation is easier and more accessible than ever thanks to smartphones and apps. Brands like Peloton have themed meditation exercises ranging from 5-20 minutes in length and themed for morning, healing, sleep, and so on. Headspace, Calm, and Medito are also great options for gently-led practices.
Remember, you can make meditation as formal or informal as you like. Embrace however it suits your lifestyle and situation. Some people build meditation into their daily routine, starting and ending their day with meditation. But all you really need is a few minutes of quality time for meditation. Make it your own!