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Meditation: A Caregiver’s Natural Anti-Depressant?

By Derek Jones on May 22, 2012

caregiver stress reliefFamily caregivers across the country are suffering from startlingly high rates of depression. According to a 2011 survey of 400 family caregivers conducted by Caring.com, 25% of respondents reported experiencing symptoms of depression. Meanwhile, according to the Center for Disease Control, only 9% of the general population is estimated to suffer from depression.

These statistics prove that the stresses of providing care for an ill or elderly loved one can quickly take a toll on caregiver health and wellbeing; which should be no surprise. Most family caregivers are juggling multiple major responsibilities: family, work, health issues of their own – all on top of being the primary support system for an elderly loved one who is no longer able to handle activities of daily living on their own.

However, with the right support systems and the oversight of a doctor, family caregivers suffering from depression may be able to better manage their symptoms. Although, not everyone finds traditional methods of treatment, such as medications, to be the right answer for them. Thus, alternative methods of depression management are being explored for family caregivers.

UCLA conducted a recent study that included 49 family caregivers providing care to a loved one who had been diagnosed with dementia. All of the participants were expressing depressive symptoms and in need of some stress relief from their caregiving duties. Divided into two groups, one was taught a 12-minute yoga-based meditation routine, while the other was provided with a relaxation CD to listen to. The results? After 8 weeks of performing their relaxation or meditation activities at the same time each day, many caregivers experienced a reduction in their symptoms of depression.

In fact, 65% of the group practicing meditation displayed a 50% improvement in their depression. Likewise, 31% of the group listening to the relaxation CD reported an improvement in depressive symptoms. Many caregivers also reported an improvement in their overall mental wellbeing.

Studies like these show that caregivers require time for themselves; even if it is just 15 minutes each day, to recharge and rejuvenate. Practices like daily yoga routines, combined with the assistance of a trusted home care provider using a home care software or home care system to manage care can help give caregivers the time they need to manage their own health. While many caregivers worry about handing caregiving control over to a home care agency, working with a company that offers a home care software or home care system, like ClearCare, as part of their services ensures that even while taking time for themselves, caregivers can check care plan updates in real time via secure web log-ins to the home care software or home care system. Assurances like these ensure that stressed will not be increased during respite time by the worry that care tasks are being overlooked.

While family caregivers experiencing depressive symptoms should always consult with their doctor about the best ways to manage symptoms, they should also empower themselves with the knowledge to try yoga and meditation in addition to traditional depression management methods. By finding the best course of personal depression treatment, caregivers can pair their depression management with assistance from a home care provider using a robust home care software or home care system, such as ClearCare, to manage their worry, mental health and caregiving duties.

For a full report on the relaxation study conducted by UCLA, click here.


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