Inner Calm; How Yoger Can Help You
As a caregiver educator, yoga student and teacher, I was intrigued by a UCLA research study last month. It concluded that a simple, low-cost yoga program can enhance coping and quality of life for caregivers.
Many of you are family caregivers who are setting aside (if not giving up) your life to care for someone with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia. As a result, your health and well-being is at risk.
Caregivers are more than twice as likely as non-caregivers to say the greatest difficulty of caregiving is that it creates or exacerbates their own health problems, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.
More than 60 percent of caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high, and one-third report symptoms of depression. Even if caregivers place their family member in a care facility, many still report high levels of emotional and physical stress.
Dr. Helen Lavretsky, director of the UCLA Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program, stated, “… chronic stress places caregivers at a higher risk for developing depression. On average, the incidence and prevalence of clinical depression in family dementia caregivers approaches 50 percent.”
In addition, many caregivers are older themselves — leading to what Dr. Lavretsky calls an “impaired resilience” to stress and an increased rate of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
There are no easy solutions to ease the emotional and physical impact of caregiving and there’s never a one-size fits all solution. However, the yoga study may be of interest to some of you who have ever contemplated trying some type of meditation
UCLA researchers recruited 49 caregivers ages 45 to 91, each taking care of a spouse or parent with dementia. The caregivers were randomized into two groups.
One group was taught a brief, 12-minute yogic meditation practice called Kirtan Kriya. This group practiced the meditation every day at the same time for eight weeks. The other group was instructed to relax with their eyes closed and listen to instrumental music for 12 minutes every day at the same time for eight weeks.