Meditation May Help with the Stress of Alzheimer’s Disease

What Is Alzheimer’s Disease?

Alzheimer’s Disease is a form of Dementia typically found in older populations. Alzheimer’s leads to declining mental functioning that eventually makes performing everyday activities a struggle. People afflicted with the disease suffer from severe memory loss which interferes with their ability to live a healthy life. They have to grapple with the loss of their independence and privacy as well as the knowledge that the degenerative brain disorder is incurable. They often feel that their own mind is failing them.

How Does Alzheimer’s Disease Affect Mental Well-Being?

As one can imagine, Alzheimer’s Disease causes high levels of stress in the person who is diagnosed with it and in his or her family. It comes as no surprise that people who have Alzheimer’s Disease are also at a higher risk than their peers for developing mental health issues. Besides the personality changes associated with Alzheimer’s, there is also an increase in anxiety and depression.
An unhealthy state of mind can actually exacerbate memory loss. This makes anxiety and depression even more harmful to adults who have Alzheimer’s Disease, who can hardly afford the increase in stress.

What Can People with Alzheimer’s Do for Stress Relief?

A new study from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital examines the effects of meditation on people with Alzheimer’s Disease. The researchers taught their patients a form of meditation called “Kirtan Kriya.” Kirtan Kriya is used in yoga and involves the repetition of a calming word or phrase.

What were the Effects on the Patients?

During the course of the study, he researchers had the patients practice yoga for less than fifteen minutes a day. After eight weeks of using the meditation technique, the patients said they felt less depressed and less angry. They also told the researchers that they felt more relaxed. The practice of yoga additionally increased the patients’ ability to retain information.

Brain scans of the participants in the study showed a number of healthy changes. Visible changes in activity were observed in the area in the brain related to mood. Areas of the brain tied to memory were also found to show improvement.

Will the Techniques in the Study Work for Anyone?

The research was conducted with participants who had Alzheimer’s Disease and with people who had trouble with their memory as they aged. People from both groups who learned Kirtan Kriya saw positive changes in mood and in memory. The results of the study imply that meditation techniques may be helpful for memory loss prevention as well as anxiety reduction.