The power of meditation

Elderly people often suffer from feelings such as depression, loneliness, rejection, helplessness and fear, mainly due to the number of ailments and diseases that ageing brings. People suffering from physical disabilities need to rely on other people for help, which is hard to accept after years of physical, financial and emotional independence. Practicing meditation everyday can help elderly people find new meaning in their lives, by connecting with their spiritual self and deriving immense happiness in its purest form.

Meditation techniques originate from the Sanskrit culture, known as bhavana , which means ‘becoming’ or ‘being’. The purpose of meditation is therefore to become aware of oneself by observing one’s own thoughts and feelings, and learning to control them. Mediation can be performed using a variety of techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, chanting shlokas (Sanskrit verses), sitting with folded knees, sitting in a lotus yoga pose, and even walking. Meditation can be done by repeating a certain phrase or mantra , or focusing your gaze on a distant object such as a candle flame. In fact, meditation is practiced in several religions such as Catholicism, Judaism, and Buddhism.

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Yogic Enlightening

Some people have preconceived notions that the ancient Indian art of Yoga is an extremely difficult, and even painful stretching technique, especially when they come across postures such as balancing the whole body on a single arm, twisting oneself by tucking the legs behind the head, or standing on the head upside down. However, these are advanced yoga postures. There are several easy to do, and equally beneficial yoga postures for the beginners or elderly citizens.

Yoga has been written by the author Patanjali , more than 2500 years ago, and the main purpose of yoga is calming the mind. Although yoga has been proven to restore health and cure diseases, its impact is much more profound. The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit word yuj , meaning to combine or unite, and to center one’s thoughts through concentration and deep meditation. Yoga therefore aims to reintegrate the body with the mind, creating a balanced and harmonious state. It also aims to still the mind of wandering thoughts, making you more receptive and aware of profound joy that the self contains.

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The power of Chi

Tai Chi is an ancient Chinese non-violent martial art, which improves balance and enhances the immune system, nervous system and metabolic processes. The art form is used to strengthen the body and the mind, fostering health, relaxation, self-discipline and self-defense. It involves a series of slow precise movements, which can help move the body in all directions. Tai Chi movements are short, simple and focused and can be performed easily by elderly citizens.

Regular practice of Tai Chi can offer multiple physical and mental benefits, such as pain relief and healing chronic diseases. Tai Chi improves balance and posture, and increases the range of motion of the joints. It provides a feeling of peace, clarity of thoughts and inner strength for Tai Chi practitioners. Moreover, it nurtures the inner metaphysical energy known as ‘qi’ , pronounced as ‘chee’ , which flows freely within the body healing all ailments.

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Dietary supplements for the elderly

Dietary supplements are used to provide additional nutrients which the daily diet might lack, and contain varying proportions of minerals, vitamins, fatty and amino acids, animal extracts, enzymes, herbals or botanicals. The food supplement can come in several forms, including powder, pill, tablet, capsule or fluid and can be an extract, concentrate, constituent or dried ingredient. The dietary supplements are not meant to replace daily intake of food, but merely complement meals by satisfying the requisite intake of essential nutrients required for proper bodily functions.

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Senior safety at home

Safety becomes a primary concern for senior citizens, due to their reducing physical strength and diminishing mental alertness. Incidences such as slipping on bathroom tiles, falling off a chair, consuming hazardous substances, medication overdose or omission, and skipping medical appointments are common amongst the elderly. Accidents can result in complex multiple fractures, due to the weak and brittle bones, and even permanent disabilities. It is therefore imperative to create a safe protected environment for the elderly, by taking special measures such as home renovation, personal aids and medical alarms.

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The bad habits syndrome

We often find people addicted to certain bad habits, so much so that their actions become involuntary. Their minds are captivated by the enjoyment they derive from these habits, inspite of being well aware of the dangerous ill effects and possibility of death. Habits such as cigarette smoking, drinking alcohol and drug usage often begin during the teenage or adult years as an adventurous experiment or a harmless trial. However, over time, they are transformed into serious addictions, due to consistent usage and inability to control the mind.
Bad habits such as smoking and drinking have unfathomable consequences, not only on the individual’s health, but also on his family and social life. The situation worsens even further for people in their golden years. Ageing, as it is, brings a host of ailments and increased risk of terminal diseases. Substance addiction significantly reduces the immunity of senile people, and presents an open invitation to diseases such as lung cancer, malnutrition, depression, brain damage, liver and kidney failure.

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Coping with Ageing, psychologically

Our mind is a powerful, resourceful entity, with infinite power to heal and bring about radical changes in our lives. Our mood and emotions usually govern our actions, and have a powerful effect on our health as well. By learning to tap into the power of our mind, we can begin to make positive changes to our health, relationships and environment.

Old age brings in a variety of emotions such as fear, anger, depression, stress, youthful longing and helplessness. These emotions can in turn have negative repercussions on our health, diet and relationships. It is therefore important to develop a positive mental attitude towards the ageing process, by learning to accept the changes occurring to our bodies and developing a feeling of self-worth.

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Diseases associated with senescence

The advent of senescence is the time to ponder upon the changes the ageing body is going through, and understand the types of probable old age diseases in order to cope with them gracefully. The primary cause for the abundance of old age diseases is the deterioration of body cells and their inability to heal and multiply. The ageing cells are unable to generate disease-fighting antibodies, which is why elderly people are more prone to a plethora of infectious diseases.

There are several markers pronouncing the arrival of old age, most common of them are wrinkled skin, reduced muscle strength, stooping posture, loss of teeth, salt-and-pepper hair or baldness, brittle and weak bones, joint stiffness and pain, hardened arteries, vision errors, hearing impairment and incontinence (reduced control over bodily functions). Several mental symptoms can also occur including absentmindedness, amnesia, poor judgment and childish behavior. While the physical indicators of old age are quite prevalent, the psychological changes depend on the ageing of cortical brain cells, which can vary from person to person.

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The science of nutrition

The onset of senescence brings about several non-communicable diseases, most of which are directly related to the shortage of certain nutrients in the ageing bodies. Several older people are at a risk of developing nutrient deficiencies, which can result in chronic diseases decreasing life expectancy or quality of living.

Up until now, there were several misconceptions about the nutrient requirements for the elderly citizens, mostly because health data required for nutrient estimation was not directly derived from the senile generation, but was extrapolated from the studies performed on younger people. However, recent studies have thrown new light on the nutritional requirements of the elderly. Scientific studies now aim to estimate not only the amount of nutrients required for preventing a deficiency, but also the nutrition necessary for preventing a chronic non-communicable disease or its symptoms.

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Walk your way to health

No matter what your age, regular exercise is as important for your health as having a hearty morning breakfast. However, when you enter the golden years of life, daily physical activity can provide far-reaching benefits. Not only can exercise keep your body fit and agile, but it can also reduce the risk of geriatric diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Along with increased life expectancy, exercise can generate a positive, contented outlook and a strong sense of independence.

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