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Meditation for Seniors May Lower Health Costs

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Meditation for Seniors
Elderly people who practice the Transcendental Meditation technique may drastically reduce their medical costs, according to findings presented by faculty member Robert Herron at the 91st Annual Canadian Public Health Association Conference last month in Ottawa, Canada.

The study found that 163 people from Quebec - aged 65 and over - reduced payments to physicians by a cumulative 70 percent during the five-year period after they learned the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The retrospective study evaluated a sample of 326 Quebec health insurance enrollees - 163 who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique and 163 who did not. Using statistical analysis, researchers compared the groups' expenses for treatment by physicians, both during the nine-year period before the Transcendental Meditation technique was introduced and for five years afterward. Data for the study was provided by the Regie de l'Assurance-Maladie du Quebec, the province's health insurance provider. Figures were adjusted for inflation using the Canadian government's Consumer Price Index.

The study's findings were dramatic. Researchers found 70 percent cumulative expenditure reduction for the group who practiced the Transcendental Meditation technique for five years. In contrast, the control group's expenses continued to rise. Both groups showed steadily rising payments to physicians during the nine-year period before the meditating group learned the Transcendental Meditation technique.

"These findings suggest that there is a relationship between the Transcendental Meditation technique and improved mental and physical health for senior citizens," said Dr. Herron, lead author of the study. "The proven health benefits of this preventive technique could have significant implications for the reduction of medical costs for people of all ages."

This research is an extension of previous studies of the effect of the Transcendental Meditation technique on aging. One study, for example, showed that a group of individuals who had been practicing the Transcendental Meditation program for more than five years were physiologically 12 years younger than their chronological age, based on a standard measure of "biological age" that evaluates blood pressure, near-point vision, and auditory discrimination.

Source: The Review

Reference: Herron RE, Cavanaugh K.; 2001; "Can the Transcendental Meditation Program Reduce Medical Expenditures of Older People?" In press in the Journal of Social Behavior and Personality.

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