As a caregiver, your day-to-day stress level might be sky high. Taking care of a parent or spouse with Alzheimer’s disease is certainly challenging. It’s well documented that providing round-the-clock care to someone with Alzheimer’s disease can take its toll on a caregiver’s own health. Chronic stress places caregivers at a 50% higher risk for developing depression and caregivers are twice as likely to report high levels of emotional distress.
How can you decrease the level of day-to-day stress in your life? My suggestion is to take a look at yoga. The general practice of yoga has many well-known health benefits that include stress reduction, increased fitness, and management of chronic health conditions.
In a recent UCLA study, researchers investigated the effects of yoga and relaxation on the well-being of caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers compared the effects of yoga called Kirtan Kriya, to that of relaxing while listening to music. The individuals in the group practicing yoga, for only 12 minutes a day, showed significantly lower levels of depressive symptoms, improved mental health and cognitive functioning compared to those in the relaxation group.
In the study, 65% of participants in the yoga group had a 50% improvement in the depression rating scale. What’s more, those in the yoga group showed a 50% improvement in their mental health score and improved telomerase activity, associated with measuring cellular aging.
One of the best things about yoga is that, once you have learned some of the basics, you can do it in your own home. To get started, look for a local yoga studio or gym that offers yoga classes. Many local senior centers and town adult learning programs also offer yoga now. There are many different types of yoga but just dive in and try out whatever is offered close to your home and start on the path to a more healthy you!