Feasibility and Pilot Testing of a Mindfulness Intervention for Frail Older Adults and Individuals With Dementia

Res Gerontol Nurs. 2018 May 1;11(3):137-150. doi: 10.3928/19404921-20180223-01. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Mindfulness interventions have been beneficial for healthy adults and individuals experiencing a stressful medical or mental health diagnosis. The purposes of the current study were to: (a) determine feasibility of mindfulness for older adults in long-term residential settings, and (b) examine differences in outcomes between a mindfulness and cognitive activity. The current study is the first mindfulness study to include individuals in moderate and severe stages of dementia, and included 36 individuals with a range of cognitive abilities. A crossover design was used, and the intervention was feasible for continued practice by individuals with cognitive impairment. Statistically significant short-term changes in agitation, discomfort, anger, and anxiety were found. Nighttime sleep did not improve, but participants slept less during the day. Long-term changes in outcomes were not found. Mindfulness may be useful in decreasing emotional reactivity and improving well-being of older adults in long-term care.

Targets: Individuals with multiple chronic conditions, including cognitive impairment.

Intervention description: The Present in the Now (PIN) intervention is a mindfulness intervention with three components: attentional skill exercises, body awareness activities, and compassion meditation.

Mechanisms of action: Mindfulness acts to decrease emotional reactivity through cognitive and affective mechanisms of action and neural activation of the cingulate cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus.

Outcomes: Agitation, affect, stress, sleep, discomfort, and communication of need. [Res Gerontol Nurs. 2018; 11(3):137-150.].

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dementia / therapy*
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome