Many people dread the idea of needing long term care. They assume their days of having fun are over. Not so. There are generally many social activities available for long-term geriatric care patients. Dancing is just one of them. Whether patients are ambulatory, in wheel chairs or confined to bed, dancing and moving to the rhythm of music is not only fun, but has health benefits as well.
Scientific benefits of dance
A recent study of the effect of dancing on long-term care patients discovered that there are tremendous benefits, such as:
- Improving the overall quality of life by promoting a sense of belonging.
- Reducing depression.
- Enhancing social interaction.
- Providing an opportunity for exercise.
- Increasing cardiopulmonary health and decreasing blood pressure.
- In Alzheimer’s or dementia patients, dance has been shown to increase cognitive skills.
Music alone apparently stimulates different sensory pathways and improves both physical and mental abilities.
How to involve all residents in having fun with dance
One key to having fun with dance is to dance to recognizable music. One theory as to why dance helps dementia patients is that when music they recognize is played, it stimulates their memories of what was going on in their life when they originally heard it.
Those who are ambulatory can get out on the dance floor and boogie. Those in wheelchairs can at least move their heads and arms in time to the music. Some may still be able to tap their foot. Volunteers can be utilized to dance with those who may be afraid of stumbling or who have bad eyesight and do not want to risk running into something.
Even those who are seemingly too frail to participate at all can benefit if another person will put his or her arms around the patient and help the patient move to the music. Dance in general makes those in long term care feel valued as individuals and increases their overall satisfaction with life.