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A Lifeboat for the Caregiver

Taking care of a loved one with dementia can be a grueling task, but meditation and support can lighten the load.

Right now, five million Americans are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. The immense burden sets them up for stress, anxiety, depression, and the deterioration of their own physical health. That’s why a recently launched Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care program at the University of California, Los Angeles, treats not just the patients but also the caregivers.Linda Ercoli, director of geriatric psychology at UCLA and a leader of the program, says she and her colleagues had noticed that some caregivers they see are at the end of their rope, while others manage much better. “Their situations are not different, but their perceptions are,” says Ercoli.Try these tips from the program to back away from your own breaking point.● Redefine “help.” If you can’t afford a professional caregiver, think about other ways people can support you. Can a friend assist with grocery shopping, or members of your church group help with the housekeeping?● Look for uplifts. “Uplifts” means finding something positive in what you’re doing, says Ercoli. “Maybe you are learning from the experi …

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Kathryn Drury Wagner

Spirituality & Health’s Wellbeing Editor, Kathryn Drury Wagner, is based in...

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