Daughters, we’d like to thank fellow daughter, Lydia Chan for another great guest blog post. Lydia is the co-creator of Alzheimerscaregiver.net, a website that aims to provide tips and resources to help caregivers. Today she shares the benefits of yoga and meditation for caregivers.
It’s Not Just Fancy Fitness Mavens Who Do Yoga
When you think of yoga and meditation, you may get images of fit people in leggings sitting cross-legged on the floor. However, it’s not just fancy fitness mavens who do yoga. The mind and body benefits of these ancient practices apply to everyone, especially seniors and their caregivers. Not only does the regular exercise help offset the effects of aging, both yoga and meditation also promote mindfulness, which leads to greater life satisfaction.
Accessible Indoor Exercise
One of the many benefits of yoga is it can be done almost anywhere. In particular, seniors and their caregivers don’t have to leave their home to practice. With the help of indoor fitness technology such as YouTube videos, fitness apps, and Wii games, they can enjoy a personally taught class in the comfort of their own living room. This can be helpful when caregivers are juggling a hectic schedule and seniors suffer from limited mobility.
A Deep Breath
Both yoga and meditation instruct practitioners to focus on the breath. Purposeful breathing has many health and wellness benefits. Breathing exercises reduce stress and the effects of anxiety. Knowing how to focus on the breath is a great technique for pain relief. A well-oxygenated brain also functions better, so seniors and caregivers are more focused and alert overall.
Yoga, in particular, can help improve balance, making it less likely for seniors to experience falls. Falls are dangerous and have the potential to cause severe damage to a senior’s body. Fall-related hip fractures make up about 25 percent of injury deaths among those over age 65. Additionally, falls result in 34 percent of injury deaths among those aged 85 or older. Even if a fall isn’t fatal, the bodily injury that can occur isn’t just physically damaging, it can also have a negative impact on the person’s emotional and mental well-being.
Both yoga and meditation improve the quality of sleep for seniors as well as their caregivers. Many people experience sleep disruptions as they age because a new circadian clock takes over in senior years. Caregivers may experience sleep troubles due to the depression, stress, and anxiety that come with their many responsibilities. By adding mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation to daily practices, both seniors and their caregivers can experience better sleep at night. The physical exercise of yoga has additional benefits as it gives the body an opportunity to expel excess energy that may otherwise keep a person awake at night. Guided meditation can also be a helpful tool for facilitating sleep by giving detailed instructions that relax the body and mind in bed.
Feelings of Well-Being
Everyone wants to feel better, but many people are at a loss when confronted with the question “how?” Beginning either a yoga or meditation practice is a great way to be proactive about improving personal well-being. By beginning something new, the brain’s curiosity is piqued. The activity of yoga also contributes to feelings of happiness and self-satisfaction. Furthermore, learning a skill through either yoga or meditation boosts self-esteem and provides room for growth. Adult learning and goal setting/reaching are all keys to facilitating feelings of well-being.
Know the Benefits
Yoga and meditation have many benefits, but seniors and their caregivers, in particular, should consider checking out these healthy practices. When it comes to accessible indoor exercise, yoga is great because it promotes balance and flexibility. Improved balance reduces a senior’s chance of suffering from a fall, which can have devastating physical, mental and emotional effects. Following the breath in both yoga and meditation can reduce stress and help with pain relief. Both yoga and meditation also help people sleep better– something caregivers and seniors can both use. Finally, starting a new practice like meditation or yoga facilitates feelings of well-being and happiness for a better life.
Thanks so much for sharing this information with us, Lydia. It’s amazing what one small change – like implementing a simple yoga and/or meditation routine – can make for the better. For more posts specific to Alzheimer’s caregivers, visit HERE!