Mindfulness Meditation Helps Seniors Relieve Loneliness
A sad fact of aging for many is a lack of companionship as loved ones pass on and children scatter.
Experts report that loneliness can be linked to emotional stress and declines in physical health. Indeed, feeling lonely has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. (More evidence)
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction:
Now, research from UCLA scientists suggests that a simple eight-week M.B.S.R. meditation program can help to reduce loneliness in older adults. Moreover, researchers have discovered that mindfulness meditation also reduces the expression of inflammatory genes.
This is an important finding as loneliness is known to activate inflammatory genes which, in turn, are known to promote a variety of diseases.
The study is reported in the online edition of the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity.
Senior study author Steve Cole, Ph.D., and colleagues report that the two-month program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), which teaches the mind to simply be attentive to the present and not dwell in the past or project into the future, successfully reduced the feelings of loneliness.
In the study, 40 adults between the ages of 55 and 85 were randomly assigned to either a mindfulness meditation group or a control group that did not meditate.
These MBSR participants self-reported a reduced sense of loneliness, while their blood tests showed a significant decrease in the expression of inflammation-related genes.
“While this was a small sample, the results were very encouraging,” said Dr. Michael Irwin. “It adds to a growing body of research that is showing the positive benefits of a variety of meditative techniques, including tai chi and yoga.”
“These studies begin to move us beyond simply connecting the mind and genome, and identify simple practices that an individual can harness to improve human health,” Irwin said.
Source- By Rick Nauert PhD
This video from the Mental Health Foundation illustrates the importance of positive relationships and the role of community in our day to day lives.