Benefits of Yoga for Seniors and Their Caregivers

Harry Cline, info@newcaregiver.org

a nursing home administrator shared that he has seen the enormous mental and physical health benefits yoga and meditation can provide the elderly… but outside a nursing home setting, he imagined it’s sometimes hard for seniors to know how to get started.  So he was very kind and composed the following article to share with Healthy Lombard:

Seniors can improve their overall health and well-being by introducing positive activities into their routines. Exercise, including yoga, can help improve physical and mental health. Some seniors are closely connected to the people who provide their care. Increasingly, these caregivers are family members, and the rigors of providing attentive care to a senior can cause them mental and physical problems. Yoga can provide a double benefit for seniors and their caregivers, helping to strengthen not only their bodies but also their bond. Perhaps best of all, it’s easy to get started and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. You can easily set aside space or room for practicing yoga and mindfulness by choosing an area away from high-traffic spaces, adding a few nature-inspired decor items, and removing clutter, which is known to increase stress and is the last thing you want to focus on during your yoga practice.

How yoga increases physical health

Yoga poses take muscles through natural ranges of motion to invigorate, stretch, and flex muscles and joints. The physical results are a greater range of motion, reduced joint inflammation, increased muscle strength, and pain relief.

 

More than its physical benefits, however, yoga is a practice. Unlike most workout routines, yoga is a lifestyle. It influences parts of your life with positivity. Those who practice yoga are more likely to follow healthy routines all day long. From eating more balanced meals to sleeping better, seniors and their caregivers can experience revitalization as a benefit of yoga.

 

How yoga improves mental health

In addition to its physical benefits, yoga helps reduce stress and lessen the likelihood of depression and substance abuse. Stress, anxiety, depression, and addiction are all often present in both seniors and their caregivers. Caregivers are especially vulnerable to stress. Caregiver burnout can occur when the responsibilities of caring for a senior loved one become overwhelming. These caregivers are often filled with despair because they become involved in a care arrangement that rarely results in recovery.

 

The types of conditions that require caregiving, especially regarding seniors, often end in the loss of the loved one. The lack of a light at the end of the tunnel is difficult for many to bear, especially those who are not professionally trained as caregivers. Yoga helps even this sort of stress. A main component of yoga is mindfulness. Although meditation and yoga are separate activities, they share certain characteristics. When meditating, you become mindful of the stresses in your life. The same self-knowledge can result from yoga. When you know yourself, you are less likely to turn to substances or neglect to deal with problems.

For seniors or caregivers who are in addiction recovery, yoga has added benefits.

For many people in recovery, having a good relationship with their physical self is just as important as the spiritual one. Sustained health has an impact that reverberates throughout life, much like the feelings of centeredness that can come from spirituality.

Here’s the good news: If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, it might cover the cost of your yoga classes (use these helpful resources to figure things out). Now, for the bad news: Medicare itself won’t cover yoga, so make sure you work this into your budget (thankfully, after learning the basics from an instructor, you can keep going at home using online tutorials).

 

Combining the physical and mental benefits of yoga into the caregiving bond

Yoga can be a part of anyone’s life. Mobility concerns may limit the ability to do all the yoga poses, but most can be modified. A popular beginner’s yoga pose is Warrior II. This pose involves standing with legs pointed sideways like a surfer. The torso is held upright, with attention focused on posture and breathing. A caregiver can step into Warrior II, while a senior can join along or adapt the pose from a chair. In this example, the senior gets the benefit of the upper-body portion of the pose in addition to the breathing and serenity portion of the exercise.

 

Other poses can be modified to meet the needs of either participant, and overall, the practice of yoga can bring much needed calm and reflection into the patient-caregiver dynamic. Whether it is to enliven a senior or battle caregiver burnout, yoga can provide healthy activity for all.

 

 

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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