A meditative approach to active and healthy ageing
EU-funded research is exploring how meditation training and other preventive programmes can help Europe's ageing society stay mentally active and physically healthy for longer. The findings can help shape a variety of programmes and policies.
© WavebreakMediaMicro #141573902, 2018. Source: fotolia.com
Worldwide, the number of people over 60 is expected to reach 2 billion by 2050. Europes population is also ageing and living longer than ever. This calls for new thinking on how we care for the elderly and new science on physical and mental health issues.
Researchers in the EU-funded MEDIT-AGEING project are working with the public, patients and meditation experts to learn more about how to improve mental health in later life. Their results will help safeguard quality of life and reduce the cost and care burden on health services caused by age-associated diseases.
The project team is investigating various approaches to healthy ageing, with a focus on mental health including cognitive decline caused by ageing, from early-stage dementia to full-blown Alzheimers. The project builds on evidence that lifestyle factors and meditation have potentially positive impacts on mental and neurological conditions.
The researchers are conducting clinical trials on patients with existing cognitive decline, meditators and members of the public aged over 65. The goal is to improve understanding and early detection of Alzheimers, explore possible genetic or lifestyle causes and investigate the mechanisms of meditation training on mental health in older people.
Previous studies on meditation and cognitive decline among the elderly reported some positive effects on attention, memory, executive function, processing speed and general cognition. MEDIT-AGEING is now working to develop preventive strategies for at-risk people and better therapies targeting those already affected.
The strategy targets cognitive function and brain regions known to be sensitive to ageing and Alzheimers, and targets known risk factors for further deterioration such as depression, stress, anxiety, sleep disorders and social exclusion.
Researchers are developing meditation regimes to address these concerns, and indirectly, the chronic health problems exacerbated by advancing age and related mental health conditions.
MEDIT-AGEING is the first comprehensive, all-in-one study of the short- and long-term cognitive, emotional and biological links to ageing, and the effectiveness of meditation in dealing with these.