Feasibility of central meditation and imagery therapy for dementia caregivers

Felipe A Jain, Nora Nazarian, Helen Lavretsky
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2014, 29 (8): 870-6

OBJECTIVES: Family dementia caregivers are at high risk of depression and burnout. We assessed the feasibility of Central Meditation and Imagery Therapy for Caregivers (CMIT-C), a novel 8-week group meditation and guided imagery group therapy program, for dementia caregivers reporting stress because of caregiving responsibilities.

METHODS: Twelve family dementia caregivers enrolled in CMIT-C. Primary outcomes included depression and anxiety, and secondary outcomes included insomnia, quality of life, and mindfulness. Changes over the study and 3 month follow-up were analyzed with non-parametric related samples tests. Correlations of feeling state changes from meditation diaries at 1 week were made with symptom changes post meditation training.

RESULTS: Ten participants completed the study. Completers came to an average of 7 ± 1 sessions out of a possible 8 sessions, and turned in home practice logs of 90 ± 10% of the time. Anxiety, depression, and insomnia symptoms decreased, and mindfulness ratings improved with large effects (all p < 0.05 and Cohen's d ≥ 0.7). Gains were stable at 3 months. Early response during the first week of meditation practice was associated with subsequent home meditation practice, anxiety change at 8 weeks, and endpoint satisfaction with CMIT-C.

CONCLUSIONS: Central Meditation and Imagery Therapy for Caregivers is a feasible intervention for dementia caregivers. Results suggest that this therapeutic technique can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and increase levels of mindfulness. Early response to meditation practice predicted those with the greatest short-term benefits, and this may inform future studies of meditation. Larger controlled efficacy studies of CMIT-C for dementia caregivers are warranted.


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