According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are over 40.4 million family caregivers for adults age 65 or older in the United States. These caregivers are typically family members who take on the responsibility of helping their loved one with long-term services and support. Caregivers may provide financial assistance and personal care, but a large part of what they do is helping with day-to-day activities and emotional support. While most caregivers find that being there for their loved one is a rewarding experience, it stands to reason that the role involves a certain amount of stress with the risk of burnout. While dealing with that stress involves several healthy lifestyle choices, adding yoga and meditation to your daily schedule can be a huge boon to the overall mental health and wellness of both caregiver and senior.
A Morning Stretch
Among the many changes that happen to the body as we age, most seniors find that they lose flexibility and agility as the years go on. Doing a gentle yoga routine in the morning is a great way to improve mobility and balance, which is essential for preventing senior falls. Stretching is also beneficial for caregivers of all ages, as it eases tension due to stress. Furthermore, it’s helpful in reducing pain as well as stiffness in both the muscles and joints.
To get the best results, it’s important to be consistent and commit to stretching every morning. Having a dedicated practice ensures both senior and caregiver maintain muscular integrity while building strength. Try this easy stretching routine to help relieve stress and improve flexibility. To make it more like yoga, focus on your breath with each stretch. Inhale through your nose as you prepare to enter each pose, and exhale through your mouth when you release.
A Mindful Approach
As stretching and yoga help seniors and their caregivers maintain healthy bodies, meditation helps improve the health of the mind. By dedicating time to contemplation, people who meditate increase their mindfulness for a happier and more fulfilled life. According to Gizmodo, research shows that meditation can shield the brain from the damaging effects of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it helps improve patience, enhances sleep quality, and alleviates feelings of depression. A daily meditation practice enriches one’s life and helps build self-esteem. Learning how to meditate is even a helpful skill when it comes to the management of chronic pain.
Just about everyone can benefit from meditation, but when it comes to seniors, there are particular benefits to consider. For one, when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle and medical supervision meditation slows the progression of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, degenerative conditions that impede cognitive function and memory. When seniors meditate, they are less likely to suffer from isolation and loneliness, which can have devastating physical health effects on top of the mental and emotional strain. Meditating stimulates the brain’s centers for memory, so it can help slow the memory loss that affects many people over the age of 65. Furthermore, the deep and focused breathing that accompanies meditation introduces healthy oxygen into the blood while improving circulation. Many seniors suffer from poor circulation resulting cramping, pain, or a heavy sensation in the limbs.
Millions of people in the United States provide unpaid care for a senior loved one. Care giving involves many things, including financial assistance, personal care, assistance with day-to-day activities, and emotional support. While most caregivers enjoy being there for a loved one, it comes with its share of stress with a risk of burnout. Along with a healthy lifestyle, seniors and their caregivers can ensure wellness with daily yoga and meditation habits. Stretching in the morning is a great way to improve agility and balance for seniors, while it can help their caregivers relieve anxiety and stress-related pain. Meditation is as good for the head as yoga is good for the body. It improves mindfulness and protects the brain from stress, but it’s also helpful for seniors, as it slows the progression of dementia.
Give The Gift of Yoga
Lake Tahoe Yoga offers a variety of options for individuals interested in beginning the practice of mindful movement and meditation.
Guest Blogger: Trevor McDonald / https://trevormcdonald.me/
If you go to the doctor for pain, he’s likely to prescribe something. That’s just how our system works. Modern medicine may try to find and fix the root of the issue, but that’s always the case. Either way, prescription painkillers are likely to make an appearance in your treatment protocol.
And anyone who has television can turn on the nightly news for examples of why prescription painkillers are dangerous. Painkiller addiction is common, and it's a problem that's plaguing our nation.
If you’re sure you don’t want to follow that path, you’ll be happy to know that there are other options. We tend to think of pain as something that’s localized. If you break your leg, your leg is the problem, right?
Somewhat surprisingly, the answer isn’t that simple. Your leg is the root of the problem, for sure, but there are other things involved.
Your perception of pain has nothing to do with your leg.
Even opioid painkillers don’t work on the source of pain. They work by blocking pain signals in the brain. Short-term pain relief must focus on the brain while long-term relief typically must focus on the pain source.
Here’s how to adopt a holistic approach to pain management.
Learn how to meditate
Do you know how some lucky people just seem to have a higher tolerance to pain? We usually chalk it up to genetics and nothing more. And while genetics may play a role, there’s most definitely more.
A Frontiers in Human Neuroscience study suggests that mindfulness training, including meditation, can change a person’s subjective experience of pain.
When it comes to pain management, perception is everything. You cannot stop a bee from stinging you, but you apparently can alter the way you perceive the pain. Of course, we’re not talking about turning pain into pleasure like water to wine, but meditation may help alleviate the literal and figurative sting.
Researchers found that participants in the pain study showed significantly less pain after meditation, but they also showed an increase in brain activity in the area responsible for self-awareness and perception.
Find natural remedies to alleviate pain
Through meditation, you may be able to tolerate pain better, but it may not be enough when you're battling an extreme case. If you find yourself in a situation like this, experiment with various natural remedies to alleviate pain.
If you’re in a state where medical marijuana is legal, this may be an option. Research has shown that marijuana may be effective at treating some types of pain. Other natural remedies include turmeric, devil’s claw, capsicum, comfrey oil and glucosamine (specifically for joint pain).
Treat the source of your pain
Perception and mediation are great stop-gap solutions to help live your life while experiencing pain, but they will do nothing to help alleviate your pain in the long run. To accomplish lasting pain relief, you must find and address the root cause of the problem. This will be different for different people, but your doctor should be able to help you determine and address pain at the source.
With a holistic approach to pain management, you can get back to a state of good health without having to rely on dangerous prescription medications.