I am interested in Mindfulness and Healthy Ageing. Partly because I am ageing, but mainly because I am seeing more post-retirement people signing up for the 8 Week Mindfulness Course, often based on their doctor’s recommendation. These life-rich class participants have included the newly retired right up to the age of 89. It is heartening to see them embracing the concept of caring for their physical and mental wellbeing.
The challenges we face in our older years are staggering. With changes in life roles, complex family issues often involving new caring responsibilities, mental and physical health concerns, loss of friends and family, fears about the future and an unfamiliar sense of vulnerability to contend with, mindfulness can provide a valuable skill to help us cope, and indeed flourish, as we age. The research for mindfulness and healthy ageing is still in its early days however a review suggests that mindfulness can help cognitive, emotional and physical health as we get older. There is strong evidence supporting the positive effects of mindfulness on mood with an associated beneficial impact on heart related conditions, pain and sleep. As someone who regularly practices mindfulness, it’s easy to see how exercising the mind with a 20 minute daily mindfulness practice can help to keep the brain healthy.
Biologically, prolonged stress can damage our health on a cellular level. Telomeres, the caps on the end of our chromosomes that protect our DNA, get shorter with age and, as reported recently in the journal PLOS One, with chronic stress. It isn’t yet known if stress reduction methods such as mindfulness can reduce this biological process however mindfulness can alleviate stress.
Just as importantly, on a feel good level, the benefits of mindfulness for older people are clear to see at the end of the 8 Week Course. As one older participant wrote a couple of week’s ago, “I think everyone should take this course. It has been a revelation and I have enjoyed it immensely”.
If you or someone you know would like to learn mindfulness, contact us.