Yoga could help dementia caregivers feel happier and reduce instances of depression, according to a new study revealed by UCLA.
Dr. Helen Lavretsky, professor of psychiatry at the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, said: “We know that 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%. Caregivers are also twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.”
Researchers split a group of 49 family caregivers aged between 45 to 91 into a cluster of two – one group was taught a 12-minute yoga routine that they performed daily for an eight week period. The other group was told to listen to music and relax for the same length of time each day.
The participants who had meditated using yoga were found to have better cognitive functioning and fewer symptoms of depression than the control cluster. They also had more telomerase activity, which is an enzyme that helps to slow the ageing process.
Dr Lavretsky said “given the magnitude of the caregiver burden, it is surprising that very few interventions translate into clinical practice. The cost of instruction and offering classes may be one factor. Our study suggests a simple, low-cost yoga program can enhance coping and quality of life for the caregivers.”
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