The Mindful Path – Alzheimer’s Awareness
By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, ACSW ~
Our greatest freedom is the freedom to choose our attitude. – Viktor Frankl
On June 20, we will celebrate the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. On this day, the Alzheimer’s Association hosts an international fundraiser to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s by celebrating the light of this longest day. For more information, check out act.alz.org.
The current COVID-19 global pandemic and the Alzheimer’s disease epidemic have startling similarities. While we all have gotten a glimpse into the isolation, uncertainty, anxiety, despair, fear and perhaps depression of this unprecedented time, families enduring Alzheimer’s diagnosis have faced this reality for years. The path forward calls for us to embrace self-care, calmness, endurance, education, patience and wellness as we try to celebrate small joys and human kindness in our daily life.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has provided evidence of how mindfulness and meditation can boost our cognitive reserve and lessen memory loss symptoms. Specifically, the journal has researched how the reduction of stress, anxiety and depression can assist with mental wellness.
The meditation exercise for this month involves listening to music with a rhythm of 60 beats per minute – our resting heart rate – to promote calmness. This type of music is available at the library, from Amazon or on YouTube. Soothing Relaxation Channel is a free YouTube resource created by Peder Hellman. Mr. Hellman has produced the perfect combination of music paired with nature photos. This is the ideal combination to promote tranquility during meals or in the evening for late-day confusion known as “sundowning.”
As you begin your mindfulness exercise, adjust the volume of music to a comfortable level and set a timer for 10 -20 minutes. Become comfortable sitting, extending your spine and opening your chest. Relax your neck by gently turning your head from side to side, next focus on your shoulders by rolling them backwards three times. Close your eyes or soften your gaze as your body becomes more relaxed. Focus on your natural, steady breath. Allow the music to drift into your awareness. Take interest in the sounds to slow your thoughts. Become aware of your breathing, if possible, breath in through your nose and gently blow the air out of your mouth. Notice being in the moment with the melody and your breath. As the mind begins to have thoughts, allow those thoughts to drift away and return your attention to the music. Take this time as a refuge from stress and worry. To further the positive effect, dimming lights and playing the 60 beats a minute music can be utilized before going to bed to calm the mind.
In June, we are celebrating the light and hope of the summer solstice as we honor the individuals and families who are impacted by Alzheimer’s disease. Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for relaxation and vitality.
Marilyn Halpern is a medical power of attorney, care manager and professional guardian in the Denver Metro area. For more information www.aspencareservices.com.