Meditation Helps Treat Alzheimer’s Patients and Caregivers
It is no secret that both the patient at hand and the dedicated caregiver who oversees nearly every daily action of the sufferer feel the burden of Alzheimer’s. The disease takes a toll on both parties; it is, therefore, logical that a holistic approach is needed to treat both the caregiver and the patient. According to a small study conducted by the Health and Social Care Institute at Teesside University in Middlesbrough in the United Kingdom, a program of yoga and meditation can by employed to relieve the stress on all those personally affected by Alzheimer’s. The study was originally published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies and was summarized in an article completed by Health Day.
The study involved implementing a series of sessions entitled Happy Antics. The sessions included group discussion, stretching, breathing exercises, tai chi, yoga, meditation, quigony and dance. All movement was nonstrenuous, meaning it was all completed while in a seated position; this last directive is specifically in opposition of the conception that those who suffer from Alzheimer’s are no longer able to exercise based on their physical mobility limitations.
The program was introduced to a group of eight patients suffering from dementia, five caregivers and two research volunteers. Participants ranged in age form fifty-two years old to eight-six and engaged in the program over a six week period. Findings indicated that seventy percent of the participants managed to finish the program entirely. Even those who failed to see through the six weeks reported improved social lives and an excitement in regards of thinking towards the next session. The program allowed those suffering from dementia to feel as though they were part of a team. As for the caregivers, these individuals felt as if they were finally able to relax and gain some exercise—a task which can be difficult, considering the time consuming nature of caring for someone. Most importantly, however, the caregivers felt supported in their duties.
Catherine Roe, an assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis acknowledged that this program is just what the United States needs in terms of caring for the elderly. Caregivers often neglect caring for themselves, with very little time to exercise or meditate. The program’s success is built into the fact that both the patient and the caregiver engages in the activity together, allowing the caregiver time to breathe, relax, exercise and attend to their own needs, if only for thirty minutes.