Dance has the ability to transport individuals to a place where they can completely get lost in the moment. Dance has many physical and psychological benefits for people of all ages and abilities but particularly for those living with Dementia.
When individuals living with Dementia are given the opportunity to dance they are given the opportunity to free their minds. They can escape their anxieties and channel their agitation in a safe and dignified way whilst enjoying the opportunity to be creative and expressive.
Dance and music are such powerful triggers for people living with Dementia. Both dance and music can encourage individuals to be present in the here and now as the tempos, rhythms and lyrics of the music encourages spontaneous movements and outbursts of dancing. Furthermore dance and music can help to elicit memories of dancing days gone by or moments of an individual’s personal story.
‘The body says what words cannot’ Martha Graham
When language becomes incoherent and an individual with Dementia becomes increasingly confused by spoken word, dance offers the opportunity to communicate with no words needed. In fact body language and physical contact become significant when speech is difficult for a person with dementia and movement and dance have the power to convey meaning.
In moments of complete frustration when an individual living with dementia can longer remember the name or face of a loved one, dancing can present an opportunity to reconnect. Holding hands and swaying from side to side can mean that both individuals are connected physically and emotionally in the same moment of time. Shuffling around the room in a dance hold whilst looking into one another’s eyes can provide focus of individual and provide real insight to how one is really feeling.
As well as the many psychological benefits of dance, dance is a physical activity so provides many physical benefits for an individual’s health. The benefits of dancing for an individual living with dementia can include improving joint mobility, maintaining strong muscles, improving flexibility and working the cardiovascular system. All of which can encourage an individual to maintain their independence for as long as possible. There is well documented research on how exercise can improve mood and wellbeing and this is also true of dancing.
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