Senior Caregivers:

Incorporate Meditation and Yoga into Daily Routines

Being a caregiver for a senior is very rewarding, but it’s not always easy. When it is your job to take care of someone else throughout the day, it’s common for caregivers to neglect their own self-care. It’s important to note, however, that not taking the time to see to your own well-being can lead to caregiver burnout. Signs of caregiver burnout include undue irritation, loss of patience, raising one’s voice, and skipping difficult but vital tasks. Caregivers who feel burnt out may experience problems with their physical and mental health, while their families can start feeling dysfunctional as the stress of their responsibilities puts undue strain on other relationships.

Preventing caregiver burnout is personal, but adding meditation and yoga to your daily routine can help. Meditation and yoga are good for both caregivers and the seniors they care for. The practices promote serenity in body and mind as well as a whole host of other benefits.

Start the Morning with a Stretch Beginning your day with gentle stretching routine is a great way to release muscle tension that has built up overnight, relieving stress to promote a peaceful morning. All of us experience pain and stiffness in the mornings sometimes, but seniors and their caregivers are particularly susceptible. Due to normal bodily changes that come with age, many people over the age of 65 develop problems such as osteoarthritis or polymyalgia rheumatica that lead to aches and pains. Furthermore, the stress of caregiving can result in muscle tension that leads to morning stiffness. When caregivers and their proxies begin their day with stretching, they can alleviate pain so mornings are more enjoyable.

Meditate for Mindfulness Mindfulness is an important tool when it comes to repairing mental illness. When we experience anxiety or depression, our minds are not in the current moment. With anxiety, you’re likely to be thinking about all the things you should be doing or worrying about something that may or may not happen. Depression is often characterized by debilitating negative emotions that lead to distorted thoughts. When you practice mindfulness, the brain is better able at avoiding these traps because it is too busy paying attention to the moment. As it is, meditation is one of the best practices for enhancing mindfulness in your day-to-day life. When caregivers meditate, they are less likely to feel bogged down with the stress of their duties and more likely to appreciate the rewarding nature of their work. Meditation is particularly beneficial for seniors because it can help with many physical symptoms of aging on top of helping with mindfulness. Seniors who meditate regularly experience less cognitive decline and memory loss. Meditation can also improve circulation and oxygen in their blood, as well as improve digestion. Furthermore, it reduces stress and can actually lower blood pressure in seniors.

Join a Yoga Class for Socialization Both seniors and their caregivers can suffer from loneliness and isolation. Going to yoga classes together gives both parties the opportunity to get out of the house for some fresh air and exercise. Not only is yoga the perfect low-impact exercise for seniors and their caregivers, but studios and classes provide a sense of community. Check out your local yoga studios or even community centers to see if there are any specialized yoga classes for seniors and their caregivers in your area. While just about any low-impact yoga can help, finding a class filled with others in similar situations can be very comforting for seniors and their caregivers. And don’t let dollar signs become an obstacle to partaking in these classes. Many Medigap or Medicare Advantage Plans cover fitness programs or gym memberships, so read through the available literature and resources to find out what benefits apply to the senior and/or caregiver.

As rewarding as caregiving is, it’s not easy. By adding meditation and yoga into daily routines, caregivers can help both themselves and their charges alleviate morning pain, improve mindfulness, and socialize more. Not only do these practices help alleviate symptoms of mental illness, but they can also help improve physical health.

Harry Cline |

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