Mindfulness for early Alzheimer's Disease: a pilot study [abstract]
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Background: Studies have demonstrated that mindfulness training reduces stress and depression among Alzheimer’s caregivers, but little evidence exists regarding the feasibility and impact of a mindfulness program for people with early Alzheimer’s. The Mindfulness Pilot Study compared a mindfulness program designed for people with early Alzheimer’s disease and their care partners (dyads) to the Memory Club, a psycho-educational support intervention for this population. Methods:The study was conducted in 2 phases over 4 months. In phase 1, dyads were recruited for the Mindfulness program. In phase 2, additional dyads were recruited for the Memory Club. Both interventions included two-hour sessions once weekly for 10 weeks with additional sessions for pre and post outcome measurement. Outcomes related to mood, emotional and physical health, wellbeing, stress, anxiety, and self-compassion were evaluated. Change scores were calculated for all outcomes measures. Mindfulness and Memory Club interventions were analyzed using paired t-tests or mixed effect models. Results: Thirty-eight participants enrolled in the Mindfulness (10 dyads) and Memory Club (9 dyads) programs. The majority of participants rated the interventions as easy to learn, likely to incorporate in their lifestyles, valuable and facilitated effectively. The Mindfulness intervention resulted in significant pre-post improvements in emotional health and depression for participants with Alzheimer’s (p¼.018), while Memory Club participants with Alzheimer’s reported significant increases in stress and reduced serenity (p¼.003). When comparing the groups to each other, participants with Alzheimer’s in the Mindfulness group had significantly reduced anxiety, depression and stress, improved emotional health and increased serenity, while the caregivers had significantly reduced depression, burden and higher self-compassion over participants in the Memory Club. Conclusions: Results support the feasibility and efficacy of a Mindfulness program for people living with early Alzheimer’s. Interventions that provide disease education may temporarily increase anxiety and depression among participants. Mindfulness interventions offer participants stress reduction strategies that may help to counteract this effect and offer long-term coping strategies for families living with Alzheimer’s.