Stress Relief is Spelled Y-O-G-A

July 21, 2014
Sharing relaxation activities may be helpful for dementia patient and their caregiver

Sharing relaxation activities may be helpful for dementia patient and their caregiver

We know that one of the many complications from dementia includes increased stress and anxiety in the patient.  Also, we know that providing care to an aging parent or other loved one can increase stress and anxiety in the caregiver.  Today’s health care providers are addressing the issue of stress and anxiety in their patients, as well as their caregivers, by recommending yoga and meditation for stress relief.

Why not create a situation in which both caregiver and patient can participate in holistic programs like yoga and meditation together? That’s the recommendation of a new study that was recently published in The Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in the United Kingdom.

A pilot study

This study was partially funded from the U.K. Alzheimer’s Society and it was a very small pilot study, but its suggestion makes good sense.  If dementia patients and those who care for them can benefit from taking yoga classes together or other stress-relieving activities, they should do it.

Yoga, meditation, tai chi and similar activities are strongly associated with stress relief, and those activities that include a physical component can also help participants to keep in shape. It’s a bonus that the physical aspects of yoga, tai chi and the like tend to be “gentle” in nature and don’t have to put a great deal of strain on the body.

The program, called “Happy Antics,” measured several aspects, including enjoyment, relaxation, regular activity, social interaction, pain relief, opportunity to learn something new, and intention to continue with the activities when the study was over.  This small pilot study found positive responses in all of these areas.

Cardiac yoga sample exercise

Cardiac yoga sample exercise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Again, because this was a pilot study, it was intended just to lay groundwork for further exploration, but the results do suggest that those with dementia may find programs such as yoga to be a viable means of getting exercise and working through stress and tension. Involving the caregiver not only allows him or her to also benefit, but can also make the experience easier for the patient.  It’s possible that with a familiar caregiver in the class, the patient will feel more at ease and better able to concentrate. In addition, such programs can provide a bonding experience for the patient and the caregiver and can enable both to engage in new social interactions.


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