Science and Health

Yoga, Meditation Help Dementia Patients And Their Caregivers

A British study shows yoga and meditation can be beneficial not only to patients with dementia, but also to their caregivers.

Yoga, Meditation Help Dementia Patients And Their Caregivers
Wikimedia Commons / lehava akko

We've long known yoga has countless benefits for overall health and well-being. It even helps me on rough days — I just tree it out and breathe. 

But now a British study suggests the ancient practice can really help people suffering from dementia as well as their caregivers. Researchers used a holistic program called "Happy Antics," which, along with yoga, also incorporates elements of tai chi, Qigong and meditation. (Via YouTube / DementiAbility)

The study was relatively small. Fifteen people between ages 52 and 86 participated in 12 biweekly sessions of Happy Antics. Eight of those people had been diagnosed with early- to middle-stage dementia, five were caregivers and two were volunteers.  

The study's lead author says: "This is an activity that caregivers and patients can do together. ... Because everyone is doing the program together, caregivers have peace of mind to at least allow themselves to 'let go' and do some exercise." (Via HealthDay

Some of the main goals of the program were pain relief and relaxation, but also enjoyment and social interaction. And judging by the comments from those who participated, those goals were met. 

One patient said, ​"I feel better after it," and another said, "Lots of good laughs."


A caregiver told researchers: "I think everybody is having a good time, and everyone is enjoying themselves, which is what we come for. I've enjoyed it. I think it's a lot better than I imagined." (Via Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies)

By the sixth session, six people with dementia could anticipate what the next movements were, and three could remember the sequence. (Via Wikimedia Commons / lehava akko)

Deep breathing and gentle stretching are proven to be most beneficial. So do something good for yourself today. Namaste. 

​​"According to the National Institute of Health, it's proven to help with musculoskeletal issues, especially lower back pain. It can even help relieve asthma." (Via YouTube / watchwellcast

It's not clear whether Happy Antics will continue at that particular care center. But similar programs can be good for anyone of any age. Experts say yoga and meditation are especially good for stress relief and better sleep, along with other health benefits.