Health & Spirit

Caring for family caregivers of dementia patients

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In the 2015 film "Still Alice," Julianne Moore plays a beautiful and successful woman who's diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The film tracks her journey with compassion and honesty, and provides a startling picture of the often-overlooked toll that dementia takes on family caregivers.

There are approximately 16 million caregivers in the U.S. responsible for the wellbeing of a relative/friend with dementia. The role is so taxing that they're at an increased risk for depression, anxiety and suicide. Astonishingly and importantly, 40% of primary caregivers die before the person for whom they're caring.

As Jamie Tyron and Dr. Marwan Sabbagh write in "Fighting for My Life: How To Thrive in the Shadow of Alzheimer's," "You cannot underestimate how stressful it is being a caregiver, and how it can negatively impact your own health." Fortunately, there are ways to ease the strain, stay alive and even thrive.

A new study published in Health Psychology shows that there are effective ways to ease caregiver burnout. Over six weeks, the researchers had people focus on positive emotions by: 1) recognizing a positive event each day; 2) keeping a gratitude journal, and 3) practicing mindful meditation and controlled breathing for 10 minutes daily. Participants had a 7% reduction in depression and a 9% reduction in anxiety compared with caregivers who were not in the program.

So if you're a caregiver, try these techniques and check out; search for "How can I help prevent stress?" and "How can I be happy?"



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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