Meditation program mitigates loneliness and promotes wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment among retired older adults: a two-year follow-up study in four South Asian cities

Aging Ment Health. 2021 Feb;25(2):286-298. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2019.1691143. Epub 2019 Nov 22.

Abstract

Objectives: To examine the impact of a meditation program in mitigating loneliness and promoting wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment among retired South Asian older adults.

Method: Intervention group older adults (IN2 =166) underwent weekly classes of the customized meditation program for 2 years as compared to the control group (CN2 =157) who underwent no intervention. Four scales were used to measure the outcomes: De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale (six-items), Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale, Satisfaction with Life Scale and Contentment with Life Assessment Scale.

Results: There were significant mean differences in the post-test scores on loneliness, wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment outcomes of the intervention group, with high observed effect sizes (Cohen's d range = 2.43-8.78, p≤.01). The intervention group older adults reported that they were less lonely and experienced greater wellbeing, life satisfaction and contentment post-test (ηp 2 =.71-.78, p≤.01). Within the intervention cohort, post-test scores were higher for men, Hindus, middle class, married, living with spouse/children/kin, with acquired treatable lifestyle ailments, who attended 76-100 meditation lessons and regularly practiced at home. Results of the hierarchical regression models indicated that home practice was the strongest predictor explaining 17% (±.82%) variation in the outcomes. The structural equation models indicated that meditation lessons attended and home practice mediated the relationship between demographic variables and outcomes.

Conclusion: The customized meditation program is an effective loneliness-mitigating intervention for retired older adults. Identifying social cognition as a function of loneliness, this intervention addresses negative thoughts and feelings associated with a mental perception of loneliness.

Keywords: Meditation; contentment; life satisfaction; loneliness; retired older adults; wellbeing.