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Spirituality and ageing – the role of mindfulness in supporting people with dementia to live well

Guy Robertson (Positive Ageing Associates, Bristol, United Kingdom.)

Working with Older People

ISSN: 1366-3666

Article publication date: 14 September 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on the role that mindfulness meditation can play in supporting people with dementia to live well.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reviews the literature in a structured way, focussing first on the general effectiveness on mindfulness and then going on to assess its role in attention, emotion regulation, cognitive decline, physical changes in the brain, prevention, and quality of life.

Findings

Spirituality has been defined as a process of personal transformation which in many cases can involve a blend of humanistic psychology and esoteric traditions. Meditation, even if practised in a secular fashion can be said to fit within this definition of spirituality. The paper reviews the evidence for the relevance of mindfulness meditation in supporting people to live well with dementia.

Research limitations/implications

The evidence is not yet conclusive; however, there is nevertheless a growing body of evidence which suggests that this is a fruitful area for further research.

Practical implications

There are numerous implications for practice: if sufficient self-reported benefit from the application of mindfulness to people with dementia to warrant this being offered more generally. If further research substantiates the quality of life benefits then this could be an important development to accompany early diagnosis of dementia. If mindfulness were found to have a preventative effect then that would be of huge practical importance.

Social implications

Mindfulness gives people more control of their emotional and thought processes and therefore this could be a significant development for empowering people with dementia and their carers.

Originality/value

This is one of the first times that the literature regarding mindfulness and dementia has been reviewed in a systematic way.

Keywords

Citation

Robertson, G. (2015), "Spirituality and ageing – the role of mindfulness in supporting people with dementia to live well", Working with Older People, Vol. 19 No. 3, pp. 123-133. https://doi.org/10.1108/WWOP-11-2014-0038

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited