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Senior Citizens: Here's why Meditation is sometimes prescribed as an antidote

11:30 AM Jun 19, 2021 | Dr A K Sen Gupta

Backdrop:

Classically Meditation is defined as a technique whereby an individual focuses on a thought, object or activity that results in a stable and mentally calm state of mind. It is usually a practice to be undertaken on a regular basis. Originally, it was practised as a part of various religious traditions. However, over a period of time, Meditation has evolved as a useful tool in other practical applications like improving health of individuals or upscaling concentration in employees of corporate for better productivity, and so on.

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Loneliness and anxiety among senior citizens:

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The most prevalent and serious issue of concern with elderly people today is that a large number of them suffer from a feeling of loneliness for some reason or the other. Many studies conclude that loneliness is not necessarily a part of ageing process; but a growing body of evidence suggests that the tendency of loneliness increases with onset of age. There are many contributing factors like loss of esteem, lessening of quality social relationships, falling health, growing financial insecurity, among others. Loss of the partner and fear of death are the other two reasons aggravating the problem.

If not taken care of at the initial stage, this can lead to serious clinical depression and allied mental health problems.

The current Covid-19 pandemic is a serious crisis faced by all of us in history of our generation. There are lots of uncertainty and fear looming around us. The problem is more serious for senior citizens. There are obvious reasons for the same. They are physically weaker. Mentally also they may not be as strong as the younger people. They have stopped or reduced meeting people or walking or exercising in open or going to senior citizen clubs. All these add to the problem particularly for elderly who live alone and surrounded by all types of negative floating news.

Meditation as a solution:

To tackle the problem of loneliness and anxiety, Meditation is sometimes prescribed as an antidote. Various research studies have shown that Meditation, if undertaken scientifically and under proper guidance has several benefits that include:

1. Reduction of anxiety

2. Prevention of depression

3. Improving cognition

4. Increase in body satisfaction

5. Reduction in mental distractions

6. Delaying onset of Alzheimer’s or Dementia

7. Increased energy and improved immune system functioning by reducing cortisol (main stress hormone) levels in the bloodstream

8. Reduction and control of blood pressure

9. Decrease in muscle tension and aches

Some steps in process of Meditation:

Pick a location and time: Choosing place and time of Meditation is the starting point. Any comforting place is fine. However, once the place is chosen, it is recommended not to change it on a continuing basis. Timing is always suggested in early hours of the morning. However, many senior citizens prefer to do it before they go to sleep at night.

Get comfortable position: Recommended position is sitting in a chair with a comfortable back. However, there are no specific guidelines particularly for senior citizens as they need to take care of their body and posture. The position should be sitting and comfortably. Asanas are not suggested for senior citizens.

Period of Meditation: There is no specific time period prescribed. However, it is suggested that the period at a time can be around 10 to 15 minutes to start with and it can go up to 1 hour maximum during the day.

Follow a guide and keep practicing: Different streams of thought prescribe varied methodologies of Meditation. One may follow any one and on a consistent basis. It could be focusing on breadth, on an object, or a thought. Concentration and focus are the most important things in any process of Meditation. Best way is to keep practicing. Thoughts will come and go but one should not be deflected by them. At the point when one experiences difficulty concentrating, it is better to focus on breath. Sometimes, chanting words like “Om” may help concentrate and focus.

Conclusions:

Meditation is definitely one of the ways to develop concentration, cognitive abilities and calm down the mind. It thus helps in reducing anxiety, if done regularly and in a proper way. Senior citizens should take Meditation as a part of their life activities and it should result in improving their cognitive abilities. That will definitely help in anxiety management.

Dr A K Sen Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Trustee of My Retired Life Foundation (MRLF). He may be contacted at aksengupta51@gmail.com or 9821128103.

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