Currently, 342,000 Australian’s are living with dementia and with no cure in sight, alternative therapies are leading the way in the reduction of dementia symptoms and progression of the disease. Read up on the facts and stats on dementia.
One of the current front-runner’s in dementia prevention and management is dance therapy! Dance is a wonderful combination of physical exercise and cognitive stimulation. This leads to improvements in balance, core strength and the activation of specific pathways in the brain. It also has fantastic social benefits, and scientists believe that the combination of physical, cognitive and emotional elements is key in fighting dementia.
In a 21 yearlong study by Verghese et al. (2003), dance was found to reduce the risk of dementia by an incredible 76%! Dance has also been found to alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
The physical benefits of dance are easy to see but the more hidden mental benefits are only recently being discovered by scientists.
Learning new dance steps can be highly complex! The coordination of mental processing and physical movement is tricky, even for the athletically gifted individual.
The multifaceted mental coordination that dance requires activates several brain regions: the cerebellum, the somatosensory cortex and the basal ganglia – these trigger kinaesthetic, rational, musical and emotional responses and strengthen neural connections which can improve memory.
Dance therapy in Aged Care Homes
We all know the quality of Aged Care Homes are very different – even in the same area! Some Aged Care Homes do consider best-practice approach to dementia care and some are currently exploring the dance therapy trend. These Homes are seeing amazing results with participants experiencing 50% higher engagement and concentration, along with reduced agitation, improved cognition and better overall mental health.
Given there are no negative side-effects, dance therapy that improves the physical and mental health of those with and without dementia seems like a no-brainer!
Apparently a glass of champagne a day can keep dementia away (though the studies on this one are slightly less scientific than those on dance therapy!).