Loneliness and isolation treated with meditation


For many seniors, being alone is an inevitability. Spouses die. Children move away for jobs and create roots for family. Friends die or become inaccessible. For many elderly, being alone is not just about the physical and psychological isolation from others, but also physical stress.

Loneliness linked to heart disease and inflammatory illnesses

Increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, depression as well as premature death are associated with feeling alone. Inflammatory diseases as well can be aggravated by a sense of being alone. It is difficult to effectively or efficiently treat or relieve loneliness in the elderly. Current options have had limited success.

Mindfulness-based stress reduction may help

Researchers have now developed a very easy to learn medication program which decreases loneliness in seniors. It decreases loneliness as well as decreases the gene expression which leads to inflammatory disease. Researcher revealed that an eight-week program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) which teaches the mind to simply be attentive to the present and not dwell in the past or project into the future effetely decreased the feelings of isolation.

Decreases loneliness, increases health

“Our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention tat decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression. If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly,” said Steve Cole, a UCLA professor of medicine and psychiatry and a member of the Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology at UCLA.

Just 30 minutes a day to a revitalized life

Participants were taught the technique in weekly two-hour sessions. They practiced the meditation for 30 minutes every day and went to a daylong retreat. The participants self-reported fewer feelings lonesomeness and their blood tests showed a reduction in the inflammation-related genes.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Brain, Behavior and Immunity


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