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

Journal article citation:
Working with Older People, 19(3), 2015, pp.123-133.

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. (Publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
prevention, spirituality, therapies, dementia, quality of life, wellbeing, literature reviews, ageing, mindfulness;
Content type:
research review
Journal home page
ISSN print:

Key to icons

  • Free resource Free resource
  • Journal article Journal article
  • Book Book
  • Digital media Digital media
  • Journal Journal

Give us your feedback

Social Care Online continues to be developed in response to user feedback.

Contact us with your comments and for any problems using the website.

Sign up/login for more

Register/login to access resource links, advanced search and email alerts