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Health Sciences

Mindful Meditation Reduces Morbidity in the Elderly

Abstract

Successful aging is subject to numerous aspects among them cognitive, emotional, and physical health. Unfortunately, as people age, they tend to suffer from multiple lifestyle conditions that worsen their general wellness increasing their susceptibility to morbidity. Loneliness and stress are major health conditions that the elderly population tends to suffer from due to factors such as neglect, economic instabilities, and alienation from the social systems. Studies have revealed that consistent mindful meditation practices are a major healing process for loneliness and stress in the elderly population (Levine et al., 20170. Hence, mindful meditation serves as a remedy for numerous health conditions that affect the elderly such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular diseases. Mindful meditation is also a preventive and curative measure for cognitive health conditions among them memory loss and cognitive decline that the elderly people are susceptible to. In addition, mindful meditation helps in enhancing blood circulation, which in turn helps in enhancing the immune system and the digestive system. Consistent mindful meditation is thus a healthy lifestyle that can help prevent and cure morbidity issues among the aging population to help improve their overall wellness with regards to physical, emotional, and mental health.

Simply put, mindful meditation involves focusing one’s thoughts to a particular life experience for some given period. When done correctly, the exercise and training of the mind result in happiness and reduction of loneliness and the related morbidity issues among the elderly people. Studies have revealed that loneliness is a significant risk factor for chronic conditions such as Alzheimer and cardiovascular diseases that are on the lead in causing mortality among the elderly (Levine et al., 2017). Besides, mindful meditation helps in reducing loneliness among the elderly and accordingly, shrinks issues of morbidity among the elderly. Mindful meditation also helps in reducing levels of inflammation that is associated with numerous incidences of sickness among the elderly population. Consistent practice of mindful meditation is thus critical in reducing morbidity in the elderly, as the practice helps in decreasing loneliness and stress in old age besides enhancing the cognitive health, the digestive wellness, and most importantly improving the immune system in the elderly.

Mindful meditation can be explained as a mental training practice that embroils focusing one’s mind to some specific experiences for some set period and choosing to turn away from the routine mental processes (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). The mental training exercise involves numerous techniques among them the breathing practice, body and mental relaxation, mental imagery, and overfocusing on some particular thoughts while avoiding other mental practices. For mindful mediation mental training exercise to be effective, one should find a quiet and comfortable place, push away all the thoughts, and focus on one specific experience. Any incidence of getting carried away by other thoughts may be avoided by taking regular deep breaths.

 There are numerous benefits of mindful meditation that help reduces the likelihood of morbidity among the elderly population. Among these benefits is the fact that mindful meditation helps in reducing feelings of loneliness that have been confirmed to be a leading cause of morbidity among the elderly population. According to a study conducted by American Heart Association, engaging in mindful meditation practices, help participants to register a significant decrease in loneliness (Levine et al., 2017). In the study, the participants were subjected to a thirty-day meditation program where they would focus on the current events instead of agonizing over  the future expectations or dwelling on the past. Upon the lapse of the thirty days, participants reported having registered a significant decrease in loneliness. A decrease on the participants’ blood sugar level revealed a reduction in inflammatory-related genes that contributes to high feelings of loneliness. It is also important to note that inflammatory-related genes are among causal factors for numerous chronic conditions among them cardiovascular infections and diabetes that are leading causes for morbidity among the elderly.

 Mindful meditation is a significant cure for stress among the elderly people. Stress is also a major health issue among the elderly population due to socioeconomic factors that  characterize their lives. It is also  stereotyped that the elderly tend to suffer from deteriorated health conditions, as they age (Lueke, & Gibson, 2015). Besides, the elderly population tends to endure economic challenges considering that they are not part of the working population. In cases where the elderly people lack adequate support from their siblings, they tend to suffer from stress and anxiety that may grow too severe medical conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder in the long run. Undertaking mindful meditation exercises is a significant way of curing stress both in the short run and over the long-term thereby avoiding the related morbidity conditions that may increase the likelihood of mortality among the adult population.

 Mindful meditation has also been a proven way of managing chronic pain among elderly people. As noted earlier, the elderly people tend to suffer from multiple health conditions that are related to aging or lifestyle. Such conditions include diabetes and high blood pressure. Managing the associated chronic pain can be devastating both mentally and physically. With mindful meditation, a person is capable of focusing on the present and positive thoughts while avoiding negative thoughts that may worsen the prevailing chronic pain (Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm, & Singer, 2012). Such negative thoughts include focusing on the future in case the condition is not cured and over dwelling on the past when one was healthy and socioeconomically stable. Psychologists have revealed that consistent practice of mindful Meditation can help reduce chronic pain by up to 50%.

 The practice of mindful meditation is also a remedy to memory issues and cognitive decline that the elderly population tends to suffer from (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). As noted earlier, loneliness is a major health issue among the elderly people and, as levels of loneliness increase so do the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which is a major causal factor for cognitive problems among the elderly population. Among the cognitive-related issues that the elderly suffer from include memory lapses, mild cognitive impairment, depression, and cognitive decline. Studies have revealed that consistent meditation helps improve memory and avoid cognitive decline (Tang, Hölzel, & Posner, 2015). Thus, mindful meditation is associated with maintaining cognitive health and longer memory among the aging population. Mindful meditation is also associated with increased ability to pay attention to a particular event or thought, processing speed, executive function, and general cognitive ability.

 Mindful meditation is also critical in avoiding digestive related illnesses. Ideally, deep breathing exercises that relate to the mindful meditation practice enhances blood circulation, enrichment of blood with oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide and toxins from the bloodstream (Monti et al., 2012). This enhances the functioning of all body organs including the stomach, the liver, and the intestines. This consequently enhances the digestive system thereby helping prevent or reduce the severity of related morbidity issues. It is also worth noting that the purification brought about by enhanced blood circulation due to mindful meditation enhances an individual’s immune system, which consequently helps in preventing or healing morbidity conditions that relate to old age.

 In conclusion, mindful meditation is an effective preventive and curative measure for numerous morbidity issues among the elderly population. As seen in the essay, consistent mindful meditation helps in curing and preventing stress and loneliness that are major health issues among the elderly population. Importantly, loneliness at old age causes Alzheimer's disease that makes elderly people experience anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mental issues of memory lapse and cognitive decline. Mindful meditation also enhances blood circulation, which in turn improves digestive health and immune system among the elderly people. There is thus no doubt that mindful meditation is an excellent therapeutical practice that can help the elderly people age gracefully despite its simplicity and non-economic nature. 

References

 Klimecki, O. M., Leiberg, S., Lamm, C., & Singer, T. (2012). Functional neural plasticity and associated changes in positive affect after compassion training. Cerebral cortex23(7), 1552-1561.

Levine, G. N., Lange, R. A., Bairey‐Merz, C. N., Davidson, R. J., Jamerson, K., Mehta, P. K., ... & Shah, T. (2017). Meditation and cardiovascular risk reduction: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Journal of the American Heart Association6(10), 218.

Lueke, A., & Gibson, B. (2015). Mindfulness meditation reduces implicit age and race bias: The role of reduced automaticity of responding. Social Psychological and Personality Science6(3), 284-291.

Monti, D. A., Kash, K. M., Kunkel, E. J., Brainard, G., Wintering, N., Moss, A. S., ... & Newberg, A. B. (2012). Changes in cerebral blood flow and anxiety associated with an 8‐week mindfulness programme in women with breast cancer. Stress and Health28(5), 397-407.

Tang, Y. Y., Hölzel, B. K., & Posner, M. I. (2015). The neuroscience of mindfulness meditation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience16(4), 213.