Teaching Meditation to People with Dementia

Rest for the Soul May Be Healthy for the Brain

meditation for seniors
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As doctors, researchers, and family members search for ways to improve the quality of life for people with dementia, the answer may lie in the quiet. Yoga and meditation has increasing been shown in research as a way to improve symptoms and even delay onset of dementia, including Alzheimer's.

Leah Marie, founder and owner of the 8 Weeks to a Better Brain with Mooditations Daily Meditation Program, started her company to bring meditation benefits to people with dementia.

She is a Certified Holistic Life/Stress Management Coach and international radio show host of The Mind Health Coach Program.

She developed her program while working with people with dementia over the past seven years.  Leah says, “I had been working with many caregivers to help manage their stress levels through meditation and other holistic techniques and was part of a panel of experts presenting for the Alzheimer’s Association in MA at a convention. 

“I was listening to a doctor that was presenting from the panel that had cited studies that were released regarding the positive effects of meditation and how implementing a daily practice could improve brain health.  A light bulb went off for me since that was one of the main techniques I was sharing for stress management.  I felt that it was very important to share the results of these studies and that is when I began to compile the research on my blog page and also developed the 8 Weeks to a Better Brain with Mooditations Meditations program”.


How It Works

According to her site:

Mooditations are designed to help you find contentment and a feeling of well being on all levels of existence, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. The mind can calm the emotions, assist in healing the body and allow the soul to shine through. Each meditation is approximately 12-15 minutes in length as recommended by some of the top brain researchers in the world.

Marie’s program is designed to work with people at all stages of dementia, she said and for those looking to implement best practices for brain health.   Leah Marie experienced firsthand what it was like to have a family member with Alzheimer’s disease since her grandfather was diagnosed with it in the 80’s.  She remembers how difficult it was for her family and all the challenges that they faced in dealing with the illness up until his passing.

“Daily meditation has been studied for the effects on overall health and it has been proven to restructure the brain and help those with early stage memory loss. For folks experiencing dementia or advanced Alzheimer's, it can help lower their agitation levels,” Marie said. “Activity directors in assisted livings can incorporate the daily meditation programs into their schedule to help residents improve their brain health by conducting group meditations and/or offering individuals the capability to listen in their libraries.”

Marie can bring her program to assisted living, memory care unit, skilled nursing facility or adult day center via the internet through the Connected Living program.

This would allow her to conduct classes or individual sessions live via the internet. This can be delivered in a group or one-on-one setting.”

The benefits of meditation for people with dementia was reviewed in a study published in Nuclear Medicine Communications. The study looked at changes in brain physiology during a chanting meditation practice using cerebral blood flow single-photon emission computed tomography.

Researchers found when the meditation state was compared with the baseline condition, significant increases were observed in the right temporal lobe and significant decreases were observed in the left parieto temporal lobe. They also found the results offered evidence that this form of meditation practice is associated with changes in brain function in a way that is consistent with earlier studies of related types of meditation as well as with the positive clinical outcomes anecdotally reported by its users.

“Meditation does take practice and commitment for those looking to achieve long term results for improved brain health and overall well-being. Studies show that it takes approximately 8 weeks of a daily mindfulness meditation practice at intervals of 12 to 27 minutes to achieve results,” Marie said.

“There are some key ingredients to achieving the Alpha brainwave state of meditation that will also enable to brain to start creating healthier thought patterns, so it is important to make sure that all the right components are being brought into the meditation practice for optimal brain health. It is always great to find time for yourself and meditate because there are benefits that come along with that journey within.

Susan Mitchell, Program Director at the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at Saint Anne's Hospital Steward Hospitals Group in MA has seen the benefits of Marie’s program.

"Our elders eagerly look forward to Leah's Groups. Leah has a great ability to connect with each member of the group. Her style and knowledge about the benefits of meditation make participants eager to follow her simple instructions and self -help strategies,” Mitchell said. “Leah's passion about her work is contagious. Our elders benefit tremendously from her teaching. Leah has been a gift to our program this past year."

Further information about 8 Weeks to a Better Brain with Mooditations Meditations: http://www.mindhealthcoach.com/mooditations.html

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