Using Dance to Overcome the Challenges of Aging
Many people complain of stiff joints, sore muscles, and lethargy as they get into their senior years, so the idea of becoming a dancer seems like the antithesis to their problems. Yet research shows that using dance to overcome the challenges of aging improves everything from cognitive abilities to arthritis symptoms. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, found that dancing results in volume increases in the hippocampus, which is the part of the brain responsible for memory, learning, cognitive abilities, and physical balance. The hippocampus region of the brain is also directly affected by aging and by illnesses such as Alzheimer’s. Strengthening the hippocampus helps slow the decline of its abilities, and dancing is a fun and creative way to do so.
The secondary components of dance are social and musical. Both of these factors have their own benefits, but when combined with dance they form a powerhouse for improving cognitive ability, boosting the immune system, increasing happiness, and more. All in all, dancing is a joyful way to improve the overall well-being for seniors and people of any age group.
4 Ways Dance Combats the Challenges of Aging
There are several ways to use dance as a way to overcome the challenges of aging. If you are a home caregiver, it is important to work with your senior clients to come up with a plan of action that best suits their lifestyle. There are numerous styles of dance available and personal preference plus physical ability will determine which ones are best for each individual. Seniors can enroll in community dance classes, practice on their own through video or other forms of instruction, ask for the support of a home caregiver or family member, or hire a private dance instructor.
Here are some of the ways dance combats the challenges of aging and how seniors can use dance to their advantage.
1. Improves cognitive ability.
Dancing involves connecting several mental activities together, such as coordinating movement to music and remembering choreography. This type of mental activity improves memory and problem solving capabilities. Studies have found that dancing helps ease the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s and can even prevent the onset of these illnesses from materializing. If you are a home caregiver, dancing with your senior clients will allow you to reap the benefits for yourself as well! Studies show that the sooner you start dancing, the sooner the benefits will take effect.
2. Improves coordination and balance.
Dancing requires the integration of sensory information from multiple channels, such as auditory and visual. All the spins, footwork, and other movements involved with dancing becomes muscle memory, too. This in turn trains the brain and inner ear to better deal with changes and quick movements, which then improves balance and coordination. For senior, improved balance means a decreased risk for falling. Dancing can help decrease the mobility impairments of certain illnesses, as well, such as Parkinson’s disease.
3. Stimulates the circulatory system.
Dancing gets the heart rate going! The benefit of dance compared to other forms of exercise is that it doesn’t have to be strenuous in order to provide quality cardio. Dance is generally a full body workout, stimulating everything from the cardiovascular system to muscles and joints. Since many seniors struggle with poor circulation, dance is one way to help increase blood flow and loosen stiff muscles. Dancing also has an advantage in that it can be a solo activity, which means seniors can take as many breaks as they want and can go at their own pace.
4. Lessons depression and loneliness.
Dance is more than exercise, it is also a form of self-expression. Getting in tune with your body and expressing your personality can boost confidence and self-esteem. The musical and social components of dance also help prevent loneliness and depression. A study from the Journal of Positive Psychology found that people who listened to positive, upbeat music could improve their mood in just a couple of weeks! Taking a dance class or dancing with a small group of other seniors can provide much needed social time and creates a sense of community. Depending on an individual’s capabilities, seniors can take dance a step further by learning and performing choreography. Participating in a creative project and getting excited about an upcoming performance provides a sense of purpose in life and is a way to help make seniors feel like they are valued members of their communities.
Get Dancing with Home Care Services!
One of the benefits of home care services is that seniors can be enabled to dance. Seniors who otherwise may not be inspired or have the physical capabilities, can take up dancing with the support of a home caregiver. Other ways home caregivers can help is by providing or organizing transportation to dance classes, by facilitating dance lessons, and by helping seniors figure out which dance styles best suit their lifestyles.
Are you looking for home care services in Northern California? Alegre Home Care provides home caregivers in eight locations throughout Northern California. Contact us at one of our offices and inquire about any questions you may have about home care services and the benefits of home caregiving.