The importance of mindfulness for older people
There are many positives to older age – and while life can still be as fun as ever, it’s important to look after your mental wellbeing. Mindfulness is a technique that can be practised whatever your age, through meditation. It can help a person become more aware of their thoughts and gives them the opportunity to manage them, and in turn helps eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed.
The National Institute for Health Care Excellence (NICE) recommend mindfulness-based therapy to those who have experienced depression, and Cancer Research UK suggests that meditation can be used as a form of complementary therapy to help patients cope with the symptoms surrounding cancer. Using mindfulness techniques can also help those living with dementia, as meditation and breathing exercises can help people cope better with the anxiety, depression and the stress that dementia can often cause.
Yoga is another way to practise mindfulness. The gentle exercises and poses in yoga not only help with a person’s physical wellbeing, but the breathing techniques you learn during a yoga practise can help encourage a positive mental attitude, something that is so important as you make your way into your older years.
How to meditate
Mindfulness can consist of breathing exercises to help calm the mind and offer relaxation.
Here are some simple steps if you want to help a loved one practice meditation at home:
• Sit on a chair with your feet on the floor, arms relaxed either by your side or on your lap
• Gently close your eyes and focus on the breath flowing in your body.
• Continue to focus on your breathing, if your mind wanders on to other things, just guide it back to focusing on the breath.
• Carry on focusing on your breathing and you will eventually become calm. Stay in this state for as long as you like, most people focus on this for a few minutes, but it can be shorter or longer if you prefer.
• When you’re ready, begin to become aware of your surroundings, before opening your eyes and finishing your meditation.