Jefferson University Hospitals

Mindfulness Program Improves Mind-Body Health in Elders

01/07/15

woman meditating

Researchers at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson tested the feasibility and effectiveness of an adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program in a group of elders living in a continuing-care retirement community.

"Our team found that an adapted MBSR program is feasible even for a much older population than previously reported in the literature on meditation training for the elderly. The mean age of our participants was 82 years," said Diane Reibel, Ph.D., Director of The Mindfulness Institute at Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson. "The participants reported several perceived benefits including greater concentration, improved mood, and less worry."

The pilot study, published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology, used a randomized waitlist control design to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. MBSR participants completed both quantitative measures and qualitative interviews. Study results show significantly greater improvement in psychological flexibility (acceptance) and less limitations due to physical health conditions for those who were randomized to the MBSR group.

In the qualitative interviews, the MBSR participants reported increased awareness and ability to be present in the moment, as well as greater self-compassion. In summary, this research shows that mindfulness-based stress reduction- a cost-effective group model- can help elders improve quality of life and well-being.

The authors report no conflicts of interest. This work was supported by a grant from the Friends Foundation for the Aging.

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Gail Benner
Jefferson University Hospitals
Phone: 215-955-6300