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Older woman meditating

Mindfulness-based stress reduction for family caregivers of dementia patients

Research project

Quick facts

Director/PI: Principal Investigator Kathi Heffner (School of Nursing); Co-Investigator Silvia Sörensen (Warner School of Education and Human Development)

Collaborators: Jan Moynihan, Kathi Heffner, Silvia Sörensen,

Funding: National Institute on Aging and National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine


This study seeks to identify the role of mindfulness-based stress reduction training in enhancing adaptive immune responses and influenza infection in older dementia caregivers.

This project is led by Dr. Jan Moynihan, a psychoneuroimmunologist in the Department of Psychiatry.  It addresses the developmental issues faced by older adults who care for a loved one with dementia.  Older dementia caregivers are offered either an 8-week-long course designed to teach subjects how to develop their inner resources in the service of taking better care of themselves, or an 8-week long “Living Well” class. Mindfulness-based stress training includes the learning and refining of a range of skills aimed at increasing relaxation and awareness of physical experiences and sensations related to physical symptoms, emotions and thoughts. As co-investigator, Sörensen contributes her expertise in caregiver interventions and her experience with community outreach to this project.