A ground-breaking 2003 study conducted by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found that dancing improved cognitive abilities in seniors over the age of 75 and significantly reduced the risk for developing dementia. The 21-year-long study looked at a variety of pastimes, from doing crossword puzzles to playing golf. Dancing showed the greatest risk reduction in dementia out of all of the activities.
How Dancing Helps Prevent Dementia
Human brains access stored information through neural pathways. Sometimes the data is accessed through a single synapse; sometimes the brain creates multiple paths to the same information. As people age, some brain cells and synapses weaken or die. The accepted theory is that people who participate in activities that require different ways of thinking develop alternative pathways that they can use to recall data if the primary path is blocked.
Whether by paying attention to a partner, remembering steps, moving to music or expressing creativity, dancing incorporates a wide range of mental functions. Experts believe that it’s the complex thought process involved in dancing that helps keep the brain healthier longer.
Dancing as Therapy for Dementia Patients
Additional studies focusing on the relationship between dancing and people with dementia have proven numerous benefits as well. Several studies that looked at social dancing in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in-home senior care programs found that the activity awakened social habits, patterns and memories that seemed to have been forgotten.
In addition to better socialization, dancing was found to provide a valuable means of self-expression. Dementia patients also showed greater confidence and self-esteem after participating in a dancing program. Dancing helps patients focus on their continuing strengths and abilities rather than on their losses. Best of all, dancing helps those who suffer from dementia have fun and enjoy life – and that’s a benefit that’s as pleasing for caregivers as it is for the loved ones under their charge.
Specialty Care for Dementia Patients
If you have an aging parent, grandparent or loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, learn more about dementia care in Naples, FL or contact a Home Care Assistance Care Manager at 239-449-4701. Schedule a complimentary risk-free consultation and find out how an in-home caregiver can help your aging loved one stay happy and healthy, all from the comfort of home.