More and more people are caring for relatives with dementia and many find it incredibly difficult to make any time for themselves. Carers need a way to self-care to sustain themselves and their sense of identity.
A new study reports on people’s experiences of an Alexander Technique group taster session designed for carers. The research was a pilot study and the eight participants were all people who cared for a family member with dementia. The 90 minute session was run by two STAT-registered Alexander teachers who introduced key concepts through short explorations. The teachers used explanations and hands-on work to guide people through the activities. At the end of the session, participants completed a questionnaire and took part in a focus group discussion to share their experiences and thoughts. The focus group was led by a researcher who had not been involved in the session. The researchers then used a recognised structured approach to analyse the transcripts from the group discussion.
Although this study involved only a one-off session, the results were striking. The stressful and all-encompassing nature of caring for a family member were highlighted. Other key findings were that the participants found that applying the Alexander Technique was calming and they recognised it as something that can fit in with everyday life. They liked how they were able to usefully give more thought to what they were doing and how they were doing it. The self-care and educative nature of the Alexander Technique was recognised and appreciated. The gentle touch of the teachers was also highly valued by the carers. Coming to the session was not, however, easy as it meant leaving their relative and this, in itself, was stressful. Potential future approaches discussed included joint sessions for carers and their family member.
The research team consisted of Dr Emma Wolverson from the University of Hull and Alexander Technique teachers, Dr Lesley Glover and Jane Clappison.
You can access the publication for free here until the 28th March 2022.
Wolverson E, Glover L, Clappison DJ. Self-care for family carers: Can the Alexander Technique help? Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2022;46: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctcp.2022.101546