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Meditation Could Protect Older People Against Alzheimer’s, According to New Research

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Meditation could protect older people against Alzheimer’s, according to new research.

The practice of ancient religions and modern mindfulness heightens awareness and emotional health—faculties that decline with dementia like Alzheimer’s.

A strong point of the study was that the control group, meaning those who were used as a comparison to the meditators, were given another activity that has potential for fighting dementia—language learning.

In the study, French participants assigned to an 18 month meditation course did better than those given English lessons instead to keep their brains busy.

Author Dr. Gael Chetelat of the University of Caen-Normandy, said the meditation improved scores “reflecting attention regulation and socio-emotional capacities,” noting in particular that the attention regulation sub-score increased after meditation only.

“In the context of meditation practices, this capacity allows a heightened awareness and monitoring of the contents of experience without becoming absorbed by them,” said Dr. Chetelat. “Socio-emotional capacities decreased substantially after non-native language training, suggesting the difference observed may be due to maintenance of skills by meditation.”

The study included 137 men and women split into three groups. Meditation and English classes included two hour weekly sessions.

RELATED: Meditation and Music May Reverse Early Memory Loss in Adults

They also did home practice of at least 20 minutes a day. A control set carried on living their lives as normal, with no intervention.

The authors note that as meditation is becoming increasingly popular over recent years, it has helped people quit smoking, cope with cancer and even prevent skin condition psoriasis.

“Could meditation, a mental training approach toward attention and emotion regulation, preserve brain structure and function in cognitively unimpaired older adults?” said Dr. Chetelat.

SIMILAR: Meditation Training Reduces Long-Term Stress, Hair Analysis Shows

“Strategies to prevent dementia are urgently needed. Mental training that targets stress and attention regulation has the potential to improve both cognitive and emotional aspects of ageing.”

Staying ‘in the moment’ has been part of philosophical and contemplative practices for thousands of years. The hallmarks of many forms of mental illness is a preoccupation with one’s own thoughts, a condition meditation seems to affect.

“Mindfulness meditation can also reduce stress, anxiety and depression, including in older adults.”

MORE MEDITATION NEWS: Mindfulness Meditation Reduces Pain by Separating it From the Self

One draw back to the study was that the sample population was not representative of the global aging population, as it included very healthy individuals.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, which combines meditation with orthodox ‘thought training’, is already recommended for depression in Britain and is available at the British NHS.

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