One of the most common ailments afflicting elderly individuals is depression. It’s estimated that roughly 35 million Americans aged 65 or older experience depression. What’s more, many people experience depression for the first time their older years (even well into their 90s). The effects of depression on an aging individual can be devastating. Not only the mental impact, but also the physical effects as well. Late-life depression radically increases risk for:
- Heart Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Chronic Fatigue
And while seeking professional medical and psychological help is always the best option when faced with depression, there may be additional steps that elderly individuals and their caregivers can do in addition to “traditional” treatments that can help them avoid the effects of depression.
Movement: Scientifically Proven to Improve Mental and Physical Health
For years, doctors have been advocating movement for physical health. However, it’s only in recent years that researchers have begun to probe the link between movement and mental health.
New research suggests that specific types of movement (meditative movement) can actually decrease the risk of depression and alleviate symptoms in some sufferers.
What is Meditative Movement?
Meditative movement is slow, methodical movement accompanied by an attention to bodily sensations. Well-known examples of meditative movement include many Asian exercises including:
- Qigong (Chi Kung)
- Taijiquan (Tai Chi)
- Certain types of Yoga
It’s different from regular exercise because it encourages slow, thoughtful movement rather than cardiovascular workouts or strength training. It also has a significant mental component—often requiring intense concentration.
Why is it Good for Elderly Individuals?
These slow, methodical exercises are often much easier for elderly individuals to accomplish. Many people have mobility issues brought on by muscle weakness or ailments like arthritis. For these individuals, hitting the gym simply isn’t an option any more. The question is, can slow movements really make an impact?
In fact, research suggests that meditative movement may actually be as effective at combating certain health issues as impact-heavy exercises like moderate-intensity cardio.
In addition, these types of exercises are often group-oriented. This adds an essential social layer into the “workout” that has added benefits (including increased self-esteem).
The Health Benefits of Meditative Movement
While there’s not one conclusive study available pointing to all the physical and mental health benefits of meditative movement for elderly individuals, several studies have hinted at positive links to improvements in:
- Immune function
- Cardiac and pulmonary health
- Bone density
Where meditative motion shows real promise is in mental health maintenance. Indeed, this type of methodical exercise has been repeatedly shown to decrease instances (and severity) of depression and anxiety. Moderate amounts of meditative movement on a regular basis can greatly enhance mood, stave off anxiety attacks, and decrease the risk of depression—even in individuals who have suffered with it in the past.
Home Care for Total Well-being
Second Family Home Care offers non-medical in-home care so your loved ones can stay at home for as long as possible and postpone the mental shock of moving into a nursing home or long-term care facility. This in itself can help reduce the risk of depression. In addition, having someone else in the home for companionship has been proven to reduce the instances of depression.
And if you choose to explore meditative movement with your loved one, our care providers can offer transportation to and from sessions when work or other family commitments call you away.
To learn more about the services we offer, call (972) 347-0070 today to schedule your in-home consultation.
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