You’ve probably heard of the many advantages regular yoga practice brings to the lives of people of all ages and abilities. Furthermore, research into the effects of yoga and meditation on individuals with cognitive or memory decline offers promising results.
Yoga can be adapted to fit any senior’s lifestyle, regardless of the level of participation, and you may soon discover you both look forward to the quiet time together.
The following rewards of regular yoga practice apply to all seniors, but they may be particularly supportive to those with memory or cognitive decline.
Yoga is highly recommended as a stress management tool for those with PTSD, children who've experienced traumatic events, caregivers and first responders. Yoga can be equally helpful to individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who may feel anxious, be unable to sit still or frequently get angry over minor irritations.
Your loved one can temporarily let go of worrying thoughts as they attempt poses and follow breathing exercises. Focusing on one thing, such as sitting a particular way or breathing through the nostrils, can help calm a racing or scattered mind.
Concentrating and holding a pose can help improve motor skills and balance, whether sitting in a chair, lying on a soft surface or standing still. Your loved one may have forgotten what it’s like to have control over their body. Giving them a chance to move deliberately can be empowering, even for a few seconds.
Yoga has also been used as an alternative therapy for individuals with Parkinson's disease, helping calm the fears associated with gait problems and tremors.
The deep breaths and posture adjustments involved in yoga, including chair yoga, can also encourage blood flow throughout the body and brain. And with this blood comes a steady supply of oxygen.
Poor circulation in older adults can lead to feelings of coldness, numbness, cramping and swelling in the extremities. The soft, gentle movements, breathing exercises and poses in yoga can help warm up your loved one from the inside out.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are associated with an increased risk of sleep disturbances. You may notice that your loved one is more "with it" in the morning and becomes more agitated as the day progresses. This is sometimes referred to as sundowning, and it can be more difficult during Loveland's winter months.
You may find that regular yoga practice can help improve the quality or quantity of sleep. Because most seniors are more alert in the early hours, schedule more in-depth yoga at that time. Then, in the evening, offer a relaxed session, keeping it low-key, quiet and soothing. Sticking to a routine is best for individuals with memory or cognitive issues, so identify the most effective time for each of you.
If your loved one has frequent mood swings, yoga can teach them how to focus inward and self-soothe. In addition, as they become familiar with a specific pose or breathing pattern, you may be able to gently remind them of it should a common irritation trigger occur.
In fact, many of the suggested means of dealing with agitation are part of the yoga experience:
Fortunately, you don’t need any special equipment or skill to begin yoga. It requires nothing more than a comfortable, quiet space and patience. (Our secure garden at Bethesda Gardens Loveland may be just the spot.) Follow these guidelines to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself or your loved one.
As you frequently hear during yoga sessions, it’s about the journey, not the destination. Just the fact that you’re attempting something new can be stimulating.
Try not to add pressure or show discouragement in their progress. Instead, you might find it best to avoid expectations and simply experience the act of doing something together.
Consider each day a clean slate, especially at the beginning. Your loved one may not remember any of the previous sessions’ poses or even understand what you want them to do. That’s okay. Even one pose and a few deep breaths are beneficial.
If you feel your family member or friend can benefit from a yoga class for seniors, consider joining one together. Another option is to follow an online session where you can assist with one-on-one help.
You can also ask one of the activity directors at Bethesda Gardens Loveland to help you develop poses to practice in private with your loved one.
Yoga doesn’t need a specific type of music, and sometimes, unfamiliar tones or sounds may be alarming. So, instead, choose quiet melodies your loved one enjoys. They may even start to sing along as they listen to their favorites. That’s fine because singing also helps increase breathing patterns.
If you’re a caregiver, family member or friend of someone with memory or cognitive issues, you may also experience stress. Adopting a regular yoga practice can help you as much as your loved one. Enjoy your new yoga practice together, and then consider continuing with more in-depth sessions at home for your own mental well-being.
*Please don't remove this section it is working with 3 TalkFurther buttons on live url