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A new study involving 23 caregivers, most of whom were taking care of a family member with Alzheimer’s, found that over a two-month period practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique helped to reduce the stress associated with caregiving.

Published in the International Archives of Nursing and Health Care, this pilot study found improvements in perceived stress, spiritual well-being, and mood, as assessed by standard instruments.

In addition, qualitative evaluation of participants suggested improvements in energy level, feeling of calmness and resilience, and reduced anxiety and other psychosocial stress.

“There’s growing evidence that being a caregiver can seriously affect a person’s health,” said professor Sandy Nidich, lead author of the study. “Over 90% of caregivers are family or unpaid professionals caring for family members or relatives, and they often experience psychological, behavioral, and physiological effects that can impair their immune system and even contribute to heart disease. Caregivers show a higher mortality rate compared to the general population.”

The subjects in the study were satisfied overall with their practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique and its benefits, including less psychological distress.

“I started the Transcendental Meditation technique two years ago… the timing was perfect,” said one subject. “I found it pretty easy and it made a lot of difference to me. I just felt calmer, I was much kinder to my mother, I didn’t get as frustrated with her….”

Coauthors of the study, which was funded in part by the David Lynch Foundation, included Randi Nidich, John Salerno, and Brooke Hadfield, all from MIU, and Charles Elder of Kaiser Permanente Northwest.

Jim Karpen is a writer by trade, with a special focus on technology. He has a Ph.D. in English and studied the impact of the computerization of language. In addition to writing for iPhone Life magazine, he has also been writing a column about the Internet for the Iowa Source since 1994. He also edits and publishes the MUM Review.