The Gift of Comfort… Meditation
While creating the monthly meaningful engagement calendar for English Rose Suites, Alex Olson, Activity Coordinator, was looking for a way to schedule time for the Residents to relax and unwind at the end of the day. By no means is English Rose Suites hectic that the Residents are not able to relax during the day but there is something much more empowering and beneficial when you thoughtfully schedule relaxation or quiet time in your day.
“I was doing research on meaningful and practical ways for people with dementia to relax and unwind as an evening activity. I found a lot of research that found meditation to be very beneficial for persons living with dementia,” said Olson.
A study done by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) such as meditation and yoga, may reduce hippocampal atrophy and improve functional connectivity in the same areas of the brain most affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
The study found that those who practiced meditation or yoga for two hours per week had less atrophy in parts of the brain and better brain connectivity than those who didn’t practice any sort of Mindfulness-Bases Stress Reduction.
“Meditation is also known to lower the stress hormones and can also help you fall asleep faster. That’s why we have scheduled meditation in the evenings,” said Olson.
During meditation sessions, the Residents sit in whatever position is comfortable for them as it’s about what is relaxing to them. The meditation facilitator, usually one of the caregivers, will have the Residents close their eyes and begin reading a guided meditation script. The guided script helps encourage Residents to truly find a deeply relaxed state of mind.
After meditation, the Caregiver will gently ease the Residents back out of the mediation by slowly increasing the volume of their voice, slowly turn fade out the calming music, and if they have dimmed the lights, then turn on each light one at a time. This helps continue the calm environment for the Residents throughout the rest of the evening.
“Following meditation, many of the Residents have much more of a calm presence and are much less anxious, said Olson.
To continue their relaxed evening, the Residents follow meditation with hand soaks and manicures or foot soaks and pedicures with lavender essential oil massages. Lavender can help promote better, more restful sleep which is important for our Residents. Often this time is also spent supporting the Residents in their own one on one activities.
“Some enjoy reading or watching movies and TV. Others will knit, play games and card or their own independent leisure activities,” said Olson.
Meditation is a wonderful and beneficial activity for our Residents and Clients.
Do you have experience practicing meditation? Tell us in the comments your experience and how it has benefited you!