Reduce the Stress of Aging and Improve Quality of Life with Meditation

Reduce the Stress of Aging and Improve Quality of Life with Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

if we can delay the onset of memory loss by five years, we can reduce an individual’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s by 50 percent. Moreover, if you can keep your memory strong and vital 10 years longer than expected, you can forget about ever getting Alzheimer’s.” – Dharma Singh Khalsa

 

Human life is one of constant change. We revel in our increases in physical and mental capacities during development, but regret their decline during aging. As we age, there are systematic progressive declines in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities and results in impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. Aging also results in changes in mental health. Depression is very common in the elderly. The elderly cope with increasing loss of friends and family, deteriorating health, as well as concerns regarding finances on fixed incomes. All of these are legitimate sources of worry. In addition, many elderly experience withdrawal and isolation from social interactions. But, no matter how reasonable, the increased loneliness, worry and anxiety add extra stress that can impact on the elderly’s already deteriorating physical and psychological health.

 

Mindfulness appears to be effective for an array of physical and psychological issues that occur with aging. It appears to strengthen the immune system and reduce inflammation. It has also been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. and improve cognitive processes. It has also been shown to reduce anxietyworry, and depression and improve overall mental health. Since the global population of the elderly is increasing at unprecedented rates, it is imperative to investigate safe and effective methods to slow physical and mental aging and improve mental health in the elderly.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/, Innes and colleagues recruited older adults (over 50 years of age) with mild cognitive impairments and randomly assigned them to either relax and listen to classical music or practice Kirtan Kriya meditation for 12-minutes, once a day for 12 weeks. They were measured before and after treatment and again 3 months later for perceived stress, sleep quality, positive and negative moods, psychological well-being, health-related quality of life, memory, and cognitive ability. Retention of participants was high as only 8% dropped out of the study.

 

They found that after 12 weeks of practice both the music listening and the Kirtan Kriya meditation groups showed significant improvements in psychological well-being, mood, including anxiety, depression, confusion, anger, and fatigue, sleep quality, and health-related quality of life, including mental health, energy, and emotional well-being. These improvements were sustained 3 months after the conclusion of formal practice. Importantly, the Kirtan Kriya meditation group had significantly greater improvement in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, mental health-related quality of life than the music listening group.

 

These results suggest that relaxation in general produces sustained improvements in the well-being of older adults with mild cognitive impairments. But, Kirtan Kriya meditation practice produces greater improvements. The fact that there was a music listening control group suggests that it was the meditation per se and not just the relaxation inherent in meditation practice that was responsible for the improvements. This suggests that meditation practice is very beneficial of older adults with mild cognitive impairments improving their mental health, perceived stress, and well-being and that these improvements are sustained at least for 3 months. Since, these factors are associated with further cognitive decline, the results suggest that meditation practice may slow age-related cognitive decline.

 

So, reduce the stress of aging and quality of life with meditation.

 

“One of the major difficulties that individuals with dementia and their family members encounter is that there is a need for new ways of communicating due to the memory loss and other changes in thinking and abilities. The practice of mindfulness places both participants in the present and focuses on positive features of the interaction, allowing for a type of connection that may substitute for the more complex ways of communicating in the past. It is a good way to address stress.” – Sandra Weintraub

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kim E. Innes, Terry Kit Selfe, Dharma Singh Khalsa, Sahiti Kandati. Effects of Meditation versus Music Listening on Perceived Stress, Mood, Sleep, and Quality of Life in Adults with Early Memory Loss: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. J Alzheimers Dis.  2016 Apr 8; 52(4): 1277–1298. doi: 10.3233/JAD-151106

 

Abstract

Background

Older adults with subjective cognitive decline (SCD) are at increased risk not only for Alzheimer’s disease, but for poor mental health, impaired sleep, and diminished quality of life (QOL), which in turn, contribute to further cognitive decline, highlighting the need for early intervention.

Objective

In this randomized controlled trial, we assessed the effects of two 12-week relaxation programs, Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KK) and music listening (ML), on perceived stress, sleep, mood, and health-related QOL in older adults with SCD.

Methods

Sixty community-dwelling older adults with SCD were randomized to a KK or ML program and asked to practice 12 minutes daily for 12 weeks, then at their discretion for the following 3 months. At baseline, 12 weeks, and 26 weeks, perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and health-related QOL were measured using well-validated instruments.

Results

Fifty-three participants (88%) completed the 6-month study. Participants in both groups showed significant improvement at 12 weeks in psychological well-being and in multiple domains of mood and sleep quality (p’s ≤ 0.05). Relative to ML, those assigned to KK showed greater gains in perceived stress, mood, psychological well-being, and QOL-Mental Health (p’s ≤ 0.09). Observed gains were sustained or improved at 6 months, with both groups showing marked and significant improvement in all outcomes. Changes were unrelated to treatment expectancies.

Conclusions

Findings suggest that practice of a simple meditation or ML program may improve stress, mood, well-being, sleep, and QOL in adults with SCD, with benefits sustained at 6 months and gains that were particularly pronounced in the KK group.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5649740/

Reduce Mild Aging Cognitive Decline with Yogic Meditation

Reduce Mild Aging Cognitive Decline with Yogic Meditation

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The healthier and more active one’s lifestyle, the more likely he or she will maintain cognitive performance over time. And meditation may be a key ingredient for ensuring brain health and maintaining good mental performance.” – Grace Bullock

 

The aging process involves a systematic progressive decline in every system in the body, the brain included. This includes our mental abilities which decline with age including impairments in memory, attention, and problem solving ability. It is inevitable and cannot be avoided. But, there is some hope for age related cognitive decline, as there is evidence that it can be slowed. There are some indications that physical and mental exercise can reduce the rate of cognitive decline and lower the chances of dementia. For example, contemplative practices such as meditationyoga, and Tai Chi and Qigong have all been shown to be beneficial in slowing or delaying physical and mental decline with aging. Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve cognitive processes.

 

Yoga is a mindfulness practice that is safe and applicable to the elderly. So, it could potentially be an ideal practice for the slowing of age related cognitive decline. In today’s Research News article “A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment.” See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540331/, Eyre and colleagues recruited elderly (older than 55 years of age, average 68) with a mild degree of cognitive impairment and randomly assigned them to a 12 week, 60 minutes once a week, standard memory enhancement treatment or to yogic meditation practice, Kundalini Yoga. Daily homework was assigned. Kundalini Yoga includes meditation, breathing exercises, and mantra practice. The participants were measured before and after training and 12 weeks later for memory ability, executive function, resilience, physical and cognitive symptoms, neuropsychiatric symptoms, illness, apathy, and mood including depression.

 

They found that following training both the yoga and memory enhancement groups had significant improvements in memory and apathy and these improvements were still present 12 weeks after the end of training. In contrast, only the Kundalini Yoga group had significant improvements in depression, resilience, and executive function, including cognitive flexibility, response inhibition, and semantic fluency. Hence, both groups improved in memory and apathy, but only the Kundalini Yoga group also improved in mood, resilience, and higher-level thinking (cognitive function).

 

These are exciting findings suggesting the Kundalini Yoga is a safe and effective treatment that for age related declines in cognitive function, depression, apathy, and memory and improves stress resilience. It has been demonstrated that mindfulness training produces a wide variety of benefits for the elderly including mood, memory and cognitive improvements. So, Kundalini Yoga can be added to the list of effective mindfulness trainings for the elderly.

 

This was an excellent study as the comparison condition was the current “gold standard” of treatment for mild cognitive impairment in the elderly, memory enhancement training. Yet, Kundalini Yoga was significantly more beneficial. The improvement in stress resilience is important and may underlie some of the other benefits of the Kundalini Yoga training. Aging can produce considerable economic, physical, psychological, and social stresses. Improvement in the ability to withstand the effects of these stresses should be highly beneficial by decreasing the impact of these stresses on other aspects of physical and psychological functioning in the elderly.

 

So, reduce mild aging cognitive decline with yoga.

 

“Meditation could be a promising intervention in contrasting the negative effects of aging. Indeed, it has been shown to enhance cognitive efficiency in several domains, such as attention and executive functions.” Marco Sperduti

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Eyre, H. A., Siddarth, P., Acevedo, B., Van Dyk, K., Paholpak, P., Ercoli, L., … Lavretsky, H. (2017). A randomized controlled trial of Kundalini yoga in mild cognitive impairment. International Psychogeriatrics, 29(4), 557–567. http://doi.org/10.1017/S1041610216002155

 

Abstract

Background

Global population aging will result in increasing rates of cognitive decline and dementia. Thus, effective, low-cost, and low side-effect interventions for the treatment and prevention of cognitive decline are urgently needed. Our study is the first to investigate the effects of Kundalini yoga (KY) training on mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

Methods

Older participants (≥55 years of age) with MCI were randomized to either a 12-week KY intervention or memory enhancement training (MET; gold-standard, active control). Cognitive (i.e. memory and executive functioning) and mood (i.e. depression, apathy, and resilience) assessments were administered at baseline, 12 weeks and 24 weeks.

Results

At baseline, 81 participants had no significant baseline group differences in clinical or demographic characteristics. At 12 weeks and 24 weeks, both KY and MET groups showed significant improvement in memory; however, only KY showed significant improvement in executive functioning. Only the KY group showed significant improvement in depressive symptoms and resilience at week 12.

Conclusion

KY group showed short- and long-term improvements in executive functioning as compared to MET, and broader effects on depressed mood and resilience. This observation should be confirmed in future clinical trials of yoga intervention for treatment and prevention of cognitive decline

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5540331/