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Meditation for Seniors

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How meditation for seniors who practice it regulariy may cut medical costs and improve overall health.

Elderly people who practice the meditation technique may drastically reduce their medical costs, according to findings presented by faculty member Robert Herron at the 91st Annual Canadian Public Health Association Conference in Ottawa, Canada.

Meditation for Seniors

Studies on Meditation

The study found that 163 people from Quebec -- aged 65 and over -- reduced payments to physicians by a cumulative 70 percent during the five-year period after they learned the meditation technique:

The retrospective study evaluated a sample of 326 Quebec health insurance enrollees - 163 who practiced meditation and 163 who did not. Using statistical analysis, researchers compared the groups' expenses for treatment by physicians, both during the nine-year period before meditation was introduced and for five years afterward. Data for the study was provided by the Regie de l'Assurance-Maladie du Quebec, the province's health insurance provider. Figures were adjusted for inflation using the Canadian government's Consumer Price Index.

The study's findings were dramatic. Researchers found 70 percent cumulative expenditure reduction for the group who practiced meditation for five years. In contrast, the control group's expenses continued to rise. Both groups showed steadily rising payments to physicians during the nine-year period before the meditating group learned the technique.

"These findings suggest that there is a relationship between meditation and improved mental and physical health for senior citizens," said Dr. Herron, lead author of the study. "The proven health benefits of this preventive technique could have significant implications for the reduction of medical costs for people of all ages."

This research is an extension of previous studies of the effect of meditation on aging. One study, for example, showed that a group of individuals who had been practicing the meditation for more than five years were physiologically 12 years younger than their chronological age, based on a standard measure of "biological age" that evaluates blood pressure, near-point vision, and auditory discrimination.

Approximately 500 clinical trials have been performed on the health effects of meditation, of which about 40 have been long-term studies. Short-term studies have found that meditation may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, and that it improves memory and general cognitive functioning.

Two studies from Ohio State University found that meditation was effective against cancer. The first showed that breast cancer survivors had a lower recurrence of the disease with the daily practice of meditation. The second study found that meditation increased the elderly subjects' "killer cells", which are special immune system cells that provide more resistance to viruses and tumors.

Meditation to Fight the Common Cold?

New research suggests meditation may reduce susceptibility to the common cold, and may minimize symptoms for those who do get sick. The research, which was published in the Annals of Family Medicine, involved 149 adults 50 or older who were mostly inactive and did not practice meditation.

Over a period of eight weeks, students were taught a variety of meditation techniques to reduce stress, such as gentle stretching, mindful yoga and discussions aimed at enhancing awareness. The findings showed that those who were in the meditation group had 33 percent fewer colds. The duration of the colds in the meditation group were 43 percent shorter for those who did catch cold. Plus, the colds were significantly less severe.

While studies continue, it is quite evident that meditation has many healthful benefits to offer you.

Calming Meditation

Practicing meditation can have positive results on your emotional state of mind. It can calm your system, help with heart health and fend off irritability.

  1. Meditating engages neural systems in the brain associated with empathy.
  2. Blood pressure may lower naturally with twice-daily meditation sessions.
  3. Some say meditation has helped them with their psoriasis.
  4. Meditation may help lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is linked with excess belly fat.
  5. Meditation may help reduce inflammation in the joints.