Dance, art boost memories for Alzheimer’s patients


The art of dancing has long been praised for beauty and sporting function, but did you know it can also help guard against cognitive decline?

Can dancing really help with memory issues?

Dancing has long been seen as a field for the young and strong, but new research suggests even those beginning to suffer the drastic effects of cognitive decline with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s can reap positive benefits too. These diseases, for which no full cure currently exists, are leading researchers to more and more find significance in the effects of the arts, especially music and movements, for those suffering memory loss. This evidence remains, at the moment, mostly anecdotal due to the difficulties of proving and creating such a study, but those working in the area of cognitive decline certainly support the idea. Many healthcare practitioners specialising in the area of Alzheimer’s and memory failure can support the findings.

Why do the arts help those loosing cognitive retention?

The suggestion is that some patients who loose verbal and visual memory become more attuned emotionally as time passes. The creation of art- whether dancing, artwork or other creative processes- can cause responses in the body that soothe and reduce the effects of a failing mind. Some types of dementia actually create the compulsion to create artwork, allowing an open channel for emotions and communication. Many respected health care organisations offer some form of art therapy to patientssufferingcognitive and memory related issues. Art therapy is even used in some forms of trauma recovery, linking to similar abilities to express the otherwise inexpressible. Check here for more information :

Is this a new idea?

In fact, it isn’t.  Dance therapists have been aware of the positive connections between music, movement and the elder brain for many decades. Dancing creates the ability to boost vitality- improving troublesome areas like circulation and breathing- as well as overcoming more delicate issues such as isolation, the loss of strength and power, and loneliness. It allows a social connection as well as body improvements that are otherwise difficult in those losing the ability to operate more cognitive tasks like telephones and the internet. It also bolsters relaxation. In short, it’s better for those with cognitive difficulties and failing mental health to dance then it is for them not to. Click here.

Patient feedback certainly seems to support this theory. As long as the classes are designed to go slow and allow ample warm up time for the frailer participants, dancing can be accessible to all, as well as evoking the memories of a past where regular dances and such were far more common than in modern society.

Overall, the positive effects of the art of dancing on memory and general health for those with Alzheimer’s and other disorders that effect memory and coordination are well documented, and while formal studies in the area are still lacking, caregivers and dance therapists both agree strongly on the manifold benefits this form of the arts can have for vulnerable members of society.

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