At the Briarwood Community, we emphasize health and wellness for our residents. That’s why we offer exercise classes, a fitness room, and even trips to the Y. But being well doesn’t end with physical fitness—which is why we offer biweekly mindfulness classes to our residents who want to nurture their minds! Mindfulness for seniors is rapidly growing in popularity and provides many benefits for the senior population. So what is mindfulness, and what are the benefits?
What is Mindfulness?
In its simplest terms, mindfulness is a practice of being fully present in the moment. This is very difficult for many people to do in such a fast-paced world! Think about it: when was the last time you were driving somewhere and suddenly noticed you were going the wrong way—or you arrived at your destination without even realizing it? Have you ever had to reread a paragraph, rewind a movie, or ask a friend to repeat what they were saying, simply because your mind was “somewhere else?”
When you let your mind wander or you spend all your time thinking about the past or the future, you are not present in the here and now. Mindfulness is a practice of cultivating awareness and acceptance of the present moment. The most common way to practice mindfulness is through meditation, which involves sitting in quiet and focusing on your breath and the world around you. It’s not a mystical art—it is a calming practice in a busy world!
Benefits of Mindfulness for Seniors
Though people have been practicing mindfulness for thousands of years, modern medicine is only just beginning to understand the practice and its many benefits. Anyone can meditate, and people of all ages can benefit from the calming effects of mindfulness, but here are some benefits that are particularly helpful for seniors:
1. Increased Calmness
Stress is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over. So often, people spend their days worrying about their circumstances or responsibilities. Mindfulness takes a different approach. It’s not about getting rid of the stress in your life, but about changing your relationship with it. When you take the time to meditate and actively focus on the present, you can gather their thoughts with openness and acceptance. This allows you to feel calmer in the moment, but the effect doesn’t stop when you finish meditating! The change in mindset can follow you throughout your day, allowing you to take a step back and feel more calm, even in the face of great stressors.
2. Improved Emotional Regulation
Growing older presents many emotional challenges. These include life events such as loss of a spouse or other loved ones, moving into a retirement community (which may feel like a loss of independence), loss of mobility, and many, many more. As seniors face these difficulties, it is only natural to feel a strong emotional response. But acting on your strong emotions is not always wise. Mindfulness helps to cultivate an awareness and acceptance of your emotions, but it also teaches that you do not have to react to them. When you practice mindfulness, you will begin to regulate your emotions automatically, acknowledging and accepting them without reacting impulsively—which will ultimately help improve your mood, too.
3. Improved Memory
Memory is often a great cause of concern for seniors; as we age, we begin to feel more and more forgetful. This is stressful and frustrating, but mindfulness can help. That’s right: mindfulness isn’t all about emotions! Many people are surprised to learn that mindfulness can actually create real, lasting changes in the brain.
One of these changes is an increase in hippocampus size. This is part of your brain that highly associated with memory, and numerous studies have shown that meditation can enhance your long- and short-term memory! Researchers have even begun to see that meditation can reduce the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mindfulness for Seniors at Briarwood
At Briarwood, we strive to offer experiences that our residents can enjoy and benefit from. Each week, we offer a wide range of classes, events, games, and more to ensure Briarwood residents can always try something new or get involved in activities they love.
Take a look at our monthly events calendar and you will see “Mindfulness Meditation Practice.” This practice occurs twice a week: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00. Why so often? Because mindfulness is a practice. The more you practice, the more you’ll benefit from it! Some residents may stop in a few times a month, others may choose to come to every meeting—and those who truly love mindfulness may even find themselves meditating outside of the classroom!
Are you considering moving to Briarwood? We’d love to meet you! Schedule your personalized tour: you can see our beautiful campus and facilities, meet the staff and residents, learn more about the variety of activities we have to offer, and top it all off with a meal in our dining room! Contact us to schedule your tour today. We look forward to hearing from you!