202012 Mindfulness Meditation for Elders: Preliminary Results from an MBSR Program

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 8:30 AM

Elaine J. Yuen, PhD , Jefferson School of Population Health, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
Diane Reibel, PhD , Director, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA
George Heckert , Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA

A large body of knowledge suggests that meditation supports quality of life and psychosocial variables that play a central role in health and healing. There is little research on the effects of meditation in the elderly population. The utility of mindfulness meditation practices may be salient for the elderly as they face issues of control and survival, memory loss and outgrowing previous life patterns.


Data on 31 individuals 60+ years of age who participated in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs were collected. Pre and post scores of the SF-36 including Physical and Mental Component Scores were analyzed with paired t-tests. Medical reasons for coming to the program were noted. Data were compared to 163 individuals aged 23-59 years who took the same programs.


Average age was 67 years, 70% were female, 63% had two or more medical conditions. Elders had significant changes in Physical Function, Role Physical, Vitality, Mental and Physical Component Scores of the SF-36. Dramatic improvements were seem in the Role Physical (p= .0005), and Vitality ( p=.0059) subscales. Compared to those under 60, elders had greater positive changes in Physical Component Scores and smaller positive changes in Mental Component Scores.


Elders benefited from an MBSR program in physical and mental health domains. MBSR programs have the ability to improve elders' vitality and decrease the role that physical limitations play in their quality of life. Overall, elders showed similar outcomes and change scores compared to those aged 23-59, where there is more research evidence of beneficial outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
* evaluate the impact of MBSR on measures of physical and mental well-being in the elderly. * discuss the feasibility and acceptability of MBSR for an elderly population.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: researcher in mental health in the elderly, book chapter on Meditation and Healthy Aging, taught mindfulness meditation to elderly populations
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.