(Natural News) One thing that everyone is concerned about as they get older is their cognitive function. Some degree of memory loss is common as we age, but new research shows that there are some great activities that can help with healthy aging. A study published in January 2017 has revealed that participating in meditation or music listening programs can provide a number of benefits to older adults with preclinical memory loss.
The study, which was led by researchers from West Virginia University, noted that improvements were seen in a number of different key areas that are often affected first in the early stages of dementia. Great strides were made in the areas of attention, processing speed, subjective memory, and executive functions like problem solving and working memory.
In addition to bolstering prime areas of cognitive function, the study participants also experienced improvements in their stress levels, quality of the sleep, better moods, and reported an overall improvement in their state of well-being and quality of life. In other words, it appears that the benefits of music and meditation are far-reaching and could be very useful for older patients. The research was published by the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease toward the end of 2016.
To conduct their research, the team recruited 60 older people with a condition called “subjective cognitive decline,” or SCD — which may represent a preclinical stage of Alzheimer’s disease, and is considered to be a strong predictor of the disease. The participants were then assigned to either a beginner meditation (Kirtan Kriya) or music listening (ML) program and asked to practice 12 minutes every day for a period of 12 weeks.
After three months of participation, both groups reported substantial improvements in cognitive function and memory recall, as well as in other areas of well-being. The meditation group reported more pronounced improvements in the areas of stress, sleep, mood and quality of life, but both groups reported a significant change. The researchers also note that at the six-month follow-up period, the participants’ overall gains had been maintained, or had even continued to improve.
According to the team, their findings also indicated that these benefits did not differ by age, gender or other variables; the benefits seemed to reach across the spectrum indiscriminately.
In their conclusion, the study authors stated, “Findings of this preliminary randomized controlled trial suggest practice of meditation or ML can significantly enhance both subjective memory function and objective cognitive performance in adults with SCD, and may offer promise for improving outcomes in this population.”
Epidemiologist and study leader Dr. Kim Innes commented, “Findings of this study may be of particular interest to older adults who are concerned about memory loss, as well as to clinical practitioners and others who provide care for older adults with or at risk for cognitive impairment.”
Innes said that she hopes their findings will inspire those with memory loss, and their caregivers, to consider simple mind-body practices such as the ones used in this study as a means to help improve their condition and their overall well-being. Innes notes that a growing number of hospitals are featuring practices like yoga and meditation as alternative treatment practices. These are often used to support wellness, relieve symptoms or bolster the treatment of other conditions. However, patients with cognitive issues are rarely the targets of these treatments.
There is hope for the future though. Practices like meditation have no adverse health effects, are inexpensive and easily implemented. Innes notes that some elder and dementia care facilities have begun to incorporate meditation, music, or other mind-body therapies into their programs.
Hopefully, as these methods continue to be backed by strong scientific evidence, they will become commonplace.