Study Proves Yoga Helps Caregiver Stress

Study Proves Yoga Helps Caregiver Stress

Yoga can lead to improved cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression in caregivers.

Using yoga to engage in very brief, simple daily meditation can lead to improved cognitive functioning and lower levels of depression for Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers, according to a UCLA study.

As the Canadian population continues to age over the next two decades, the prevalence of dementia and the number of family caregivers who provide support to these loved ones will increase dramatically. Currently, at least five million people provide care for someone with dementia. The detrimental burden on them, in terms of their own lives, can be severe.

Researchers recruited 49 family caregivers who were taking care of their relatives with dementia. Their ages ranged from 45 to 91 years old and included 36 adult children and 13 spouses. The participants were randomized into two groups.

The meditation group was taught a brief,12-minute yogic practice that included an ancient chanting meditation, Kirtan Kriya, which was performed every day at the same time for eight weeks. The other group was asked to relax in a quiet place with their eyes closed while listening to instrumental music on a relaxation CD, also for 12 minutes every day at the same time for eight weeks.

At the end of the eight weeks the researchers found that the meditation group showed significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms and greater improvement in mental health and cognitive functioning, compared with the relaxation group.

In the meditation group, 65% showed a 50% improvement on a depression rating scale, and 52% of the group showed a 50 percent improvement on a mental health score. This compared to a 31% depression improvement and a 19% mental health improvement for the relaxation group.

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