Sabrina Ford, Lindsay Nagamatsu

Sabrina Ford

Title of Presentation:
Can Meditation Improve Quality of Life in Older Adults at Risk of Falling by Increasing Attention?

Name of Institution:
Department of Neuroscience, Western University
School of Kinesiology, Western University

Preference for Poster or Oral Presentation:



Older adults who have fallen are at increased risk of depression, and alternatively, the use of psychotropic drugs to treat depression can result in an increased risk of falling. Therefore, older adults are at risk of decreased quality of life as a result of falling. Previous literature suggests that falls are also linked to poor attention. A strategy that has been shown to improve attention is meditation. Meditation involves bringing awareness and focus to the present moment. Therefore, our current study examines whether using meditation training in an older adult population with a history of recurrent falls would improve their attention and their mood. We are conducting a four-week intervention where participants are randomly assigned to either a focused attention (FA) meditation condition, or an acoustic music listening (control) condition three times a week. Before and after the four-week intervention we assess attention using the Sustained Attention to Response Task (SART) and EEG during resting state where we measure alpha peak frequency (iAPF). We assess mood using The Geriatric Depression Scale and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale. We predict an improvement in SART performance and increase in iAPF in the meditation group compared to the controls. As well, we expect a decrease in measures of depression, anxiety and stress. These results suggest that FA meditation can increase attention in older adults, possibly decreasing their risk of falls and depression. In conclusion, the use of FA meditation in older adults may provide an accessible intervention to improve quality of life.

Innovative Technique:

The innovative technique in this research is the use of focused attention meditation strategies in an older adult population who are at risk for falling. This practice involves the participants focusing on their breathing. Meditation does not require any technology or aids, and can also be done in any setting which avoids possibly excluding anyone who wants to participate. Meditation has been shown to increase attention, but has yet to be used in older adults to improve mobility. Some new research has shown that meditation may improve attention in older adults specifically, but has yet to be extensively studied as it has in other populations, e.g., young adults. Since falls are linked to depression in older adults, the discovery of an inexpensive and accessible intervention to improve attention, and consequently mobility, could have a significant impact on depressive symptoms, and therefore, quality of life in older adults.