Patient care is not an easy job. For many of the caregivers for the 5.4 million Alzheimer's patients in the U.S., it leads to loneliness, exhaustion, fear, stress and depression. Researchers at UCLA's Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior looked at the benefits of meditation for a group of caregivers whose ages ranged from 45 to 91. The participants were divided into two groups, one that would learn to practice mediation and the other who would relax with closed eyes while listening to instrumental music. Both groups spent 12 minutes a day, every day, for eight weeks either practicing the meditation technique they were taught or relaxing with music. At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers found that 65 percent of the participants in the meditation group showed a 50 percent improvement on a depression rating scale and 52 percent showed 50 percent improvement on a mental health score. In the relaxation group the participants showed only a 31 percent improvement in depression and a 19 percent improvement in mental health scores. The investigators also found that meditation increased activity of telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomeres at the ends of chromosomes. Increased telomerase activity is associated with slower cellular aging.