Caregiving for a dementia patient is associated with increased risk of psychological and physical health problems. We investigated whether a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training course for caregivers that closely models the MBSR curriculum originally established by the Center of Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts may improve the psychological resilience of non-professional caregivers of Alzheimer's disease patients. Twenty adult non-professional caregivers of dementia patients participated in an 8-week MBSR training course. Caregiver stress, depression, burden, grief, and gene expression profiles of blood mononuclear cells were assessed at baseline and following MBSR. MBSR training significantly improved the psychological resilience of some of the caregivers. We identified predictive biomarkers whose expression is associated with the likelihood of caregivers to benefit from MBSR, and biomarkers whose expression is associated with MBSR psychological benefits. Our biomarker studies provide insight into the mechanisms of health benefits of MBSR and a basis for developing a personalized medicine approach for applying MBSR for promoting psychological and cognitive resilience in caregivers of dementia patients.
Keywords: Dementia; Depression; Emotional distress; Family caregiver; Mindfulness-based stress reduction.