Over the past decade, the research behind meditation and its link to improvements in those with Alzheimer’s has increased, allowing us a better look into the benefits of this age-old practice.
Meditation can slow the aging rate of the brain. In fact, studies have shown that the brains of people who have practiced meditation throughout their lives are, on average, seven years younger than those who have not. Similar research has shown meditation can reduce atrophy in the brain, increase brain connectivity, and lead to the growth of new brain cells.
Meditation and the research behind it gives hopes to those who have or are at risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other forms of memory loss as they age.
Exercising the Brain
Like the rest of our body, our brain can benefit from a regular exercise routine. Many people relate meditation to sitting and doing nothing, but in fact, meditation is a form of exercise and training for our brains. Meditation helps us increase our awareness and decrease mind-wandering, which is linked to unhappiness and worrying. As we age, the effects of meditation are even more pronounced. In a study from UCLA, researchers found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged.
Meditation involves two key memory centers in the brain: the hippocampus and the frontal lobe. Strengthening these key memory areas through meditation increases our ability to delve into our subconscious, where our memories reside. The focus required for practicing meditation exercises our memory “muscles” and improves our ability to retain and retrieve information. By exercising the brain through meditation, we can improve our memory and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and other memory-affecting diseases.
Reduce Stress & Increase Happiness
Meditation is a known stress-reducer. By taking time to be present and calm, we reduce agitation in the brain. This additional benefit can help those with, or at risk for Alzheimer’s focus on the positive while exercising their brain and improving their memory. Those who engage in a regular meditation practice also experience increased happiness and an overall more positive outlook on life.
Caregivers can also benefit from practicing meditation. The weight of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can add its own level of stress to one’s life, so engaging in a meditation practice along with those suffering from memory loss can decrease stress and increase peace and focus.
How to Start Practicing Meditation
With the benefits of meditation clear, beginning a regular practice is an easy decision. There are many meditation guides and programs to choose from, and it may be hard to know where to start. For those interested in a meditation practice specifically useful for Alzheimer’s patients, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation has put together a step-by-step guide for beginning a meditation practice.
Memory Care at Surpass Senior Living Communities
As you age, your needs may change, but at Surpass Senior Living, we’re with you every step of the way. With memory care services and a holistic approach to serve your needs, you’ll be taken care of mind, body, and soul at a Surpass Living community. By having a care plan in place, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ll get the care you need.
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