It is a real breakthrough to get the residents doing dance sessions in care homes. At least it helps calm agitated residents, especially those suffering from dementia, but the benefits of dance for the elderly is not restricted to just care homes as you will find out later.
Research was tested in a recent study using a type of Mexican/Cuban dance in homes in Tyneside by Dr Azucena Guzmán García. The dance in question is the Danzon which surprisingly originated in the UK. It is thought to have found its way to Cuba when the British invaded Havana in the 18th Century. It became a complete fusion dance mixing European and African rhythms. The Cubans took the dance and music to Mexico. Watch the professionals dancing the Danzon below.
“I witnessed the joy people got from taking part in the dancing and for residents who were watching, the laughter and happy memories it generated.” commented Garcia. She went on to explain that the dance sessions helped residents’ cognitive, behavioural and emotional states as well as obvious enjoyment and social interaction.
For many of the residents it brought back fond memories and cheered them up.
Not just in Tyneside
It seems Tyneside is not the only region where dancing is encouraged. Edinburgh, Wales and Cornwall also report the benefits of dance-based activities for all ages. These range from Dance Movement Psychotherapy in Edinburgh to Zumba classes in Cornwall and Belly Dancing in Wales.
Just because people get older and aren’t as mobile as they once were, doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy having a go.
Of course the added bonus is the health benefit that music and movement bring. We must all be aware that any exercise is good for us. And you don’t have to be in a care home to get involved. If there aren’t classes of some kind geared to those whose movements may be limited in your area, don’t panic.
If you belong to a community or have a community centre why not suggest one? If it is just you, you can still enjoy some easy movement at home. Just a few steps of your favourite dance to some music will boost your wellbeing no end.
Here’s some sound waves – but what effects can they have on you?
Although you can dance or move without sounds, music gives you the rhythm and the motivation.
In fact it does more than encourage us to move to the beat. Apparently we need to use all of our brain to listen to music and this helps us with many other activities besides dancing.
You won’t be surprised to learn that it helps with physical coordination, but you might be when you find out that music even helps us to learn other languages!
Endorphins and other benefits
Music encourages the release of endorphins and this helps us to manage pain.
Of course it also works to distract from pain and can help us relax and even encourage sleep. It can also aid memory. Certainly playing old favourite tunes can induce happy memories from our pasts. It can also lower our blood pressure, reduce stress levels and improve our memories – less ‘senior moments’ maybe!
Of course as we’ve mentioned it can encourage movement or at least make it easier to start and continue taking the exercise of your choice. It is thought that music can play a big part in improving movement especially when improving mobility. Music can even speed up post-stroke recovery that is according to researchers in Finland.
So put on your favourite music and get those feet tapping. What is your favourite type of music to dance to? Can you dance to any type of music? Let us know in the comments.