Importance: With the high prevalence and cost of dementia care worldwide, a need exists to develop cost-effective and evidence-based treatment for people with dementia. Meditation, which has been demonstrated to have positive effects on brain health, may be a viable intervention option.
Objective: To investigate how meditation-based interventions affect health and quality-of-life (QOL) outcomes for adults with dementia.
Data Sources: Articles were located by using the keywords meditation, mindfulness, mind–body, dementia, and Alzheimer’s to search the following electronic databases: PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, Cochrane, and JumboSearch at Tufts University.
Study Selection and Data Collection: Using Arksey and O’Malley’s methodology, a scoping review was conducted to examine scientific and gray literature published between 1997 and 2018. Data were abstracted and assessed using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses. Only articles that included a meditation-based intervention and at least 1 participant with dementia were included.
Findings: Nineteen articles met inclusion criteria. The four main outcomes that emerged from the literature were improvement in QOL, mental health, cognition, and functional abilities after participation in a meditation-based intervention. The outcome with the strongest support was the effectiveness of meditation-based interventions in maintaining cognitive function in people living with dementia. Significant gaps in the research were identified, including weak research design, inconsistency in measurement of outcomes, small sample sizes, and a lack of standardized meditation protocols for people with dementia.
Conclusions and Relevance: Our findings suggest that incorporating meditation into interventions for clients with dementia can have beneficial results. Opportunities exist for occupational therapy practitioners to advocate for the continuation of research in this field. Notable gaps in the literature highlight the need for randomized controlled trials and the development of standardized meditation protocols for people with dementia.
What This Article Adds: Meditation-based interventions for people with dementia are associated with improved quality of life and cognition and may be viable treatment options for occupational therapists to implement in their practice.