Impact of a Holistic Health Intervention on the Well-Being of Elderly Thais

  •  Chontida Yarana    
  •  Veda Prachayasittikul    
  •  Wilairat Nuchpramol    
  •  Tararat Khaokhiew    
  •  Kanokwan Kittiniyom    
  •  Rachanee Udomsangpetch    
  •  Chartchalerm Isarankura Na Ayudhya    
  •  Wilasinee Suwanjang    


OBJECTIVE: Mental stress is a major risk factor of metabolic diseases and impairs quality of life in the elderly. The goal of this study was to investigate whether a mindfulness-based intervention can improve health parameters and reduce stress-related hormones in elderly Thais.

METHODS: A total of 192 participants were recruited from urban (n = 96) and rural areas (n = 96) in central region of Thailand. Creative visual art relaxation and meditative movement exemplified by Dao De Xin Xi exercise were introduced as monthly workshops and individual participants were encouraged to practice regularly for three months. General health status, levels of blood pressure (BP), fasting blood sugar (FBS), cortisol and dehydroepiandrosteone (DHEA) were evaluated before and after completing the intervention.

RESULTS: This mindfulness-based intervention was effective as assessed by several biological health parameters. However, the degree of effectiveness differed between participants in urban and rural groups. In urban group, BPs were significantly reduced in hypertension and pre-hypertension subgroups of participants, and levels of DHEA in low DHEA participants were significantly increased after the intervention. In contrast, FBS levels in diabetic and pre-diabetic participants in the rural group, but not in the urban group, were significantly decreased after the intervention. We found a trend toward improvement of cortisol levels in both groups. However, the levels of glycated hemoglobin in either group remained unchanged.

CONCLUSION: This mindfulness-based intervention to elderly people improved health parameters related to metabolic diseases. Therefore, applying the intervention in primary healthcare may help promote the well-being in elderly.

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