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Alzheimer's Disease Health Center

Yoga, Meditation May Help Dementia Patients

'Holistic' program involving these and other activities brought relaxation, exercise, small study found
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Caregivers felt rewarded, too. The exercises "help me to relax, just [have] a feeling of well-being afterwards," one caregiver said. Another said, "Everyone is enjoying themselves, which is what we come for."

"Caregivers themselves also feel supported throughout the sessions," Khoo said. "On the other hand, the presence of the caregiver is reassuring to the patient, and this feeling of security and familiarity supports the exercise environment."

Three people involved in the program also cited pain relief as an added benefit, while three others said they felt empowered by the experience.

Will "Happy Antics" continue? Janet Baker, activities coordinator for the Dalton Court Care Home in Cockermouth, U.K., said a trial session held after the study was finished was "well received."

"The majority of the residents in the lounge participated in one form or another," Baker said. "Some were very active throughout while others sat and watched, taking it all in, tapping a foot on the floor, patting a hand on their leg, or following each movement closely with their eyes. The physical movements, which were at varying speeds, were easy to follow with the choice of music, which added to the fun. Some residents couldn't manage all the actions, as they were laughing so much as they sang along to the familiar tune."

For her part, Roe said "Happy Antics" should be commended for its inclusion of caregivers with patients, and as a proof of concept.

Khoo's team "have shown that holistic classes like this are possible," Roe said. "The next step would be to test this in a larger group, and actually measure whether, and how much, this program actually improves quality of life for both people with dementia and their caregivers."

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