Elder Care Dancing as Therapy

As a national insurance wholesaler providing coverage for elder care facilities, it is important to stay abreast of rehabilitation methods. Dancing enhances both cognitive and physical abilities, so it is ideal as a method of rehabilitation. As people age, certain physical characteristics can change, and even decline. Staying active, both physically and mentally, can help slow the progression of disease and prevent decline in seniors.

Gait is considered the sixth vital sign. Any measure below 2 feet per second is of concern for older adults. Seniors with slow gait are more likely to be:

  • Dependent on others for care
  • Prone to falls and the resultant broken bones
  • Dependent on pain relief medication

With this in mind, researchers at the University of St. Louis looked into dance as a way to potentially increase and stabilize gait. Additionally, they wanted to find out if dance could help reduce pain and stiffness in the hips and legs in the elderly.

The researchers used Healthy Steps (The Lebed Method). There were two groups of people over the age of 62 in the twelve-week study. The average age was eighty with individuals included who were well into their 80’s. Both groups experienced frequent or intermittent lower extremity pain. One group maintained their normal exercise routine and the other added the Healthy Steps program to their regular routine. The dance sessions were 45 minutes in length and included warm-ups and cool-downs. Participants could do the dance steps either standing or sitting.

At the end of the study, the group that added dance increased their gait speed enough to indicate that dancing contributed. They also had less pain in their knees and hips and reduced their use of pain medication by 39%. The other group actually increased their intake of pain medication by 21%.

Although a small study, with only 34 participants, the results do confirm those of other studies which indicate that dance therapy, when structured appropriately for older adults, is an effective means of improving gait and reducing lower extremity pain.

  • Two recent studies on danced-based therapy conducted by University of Missouri-Columbia researchers found that participation in dancing can improve not only gait, but also balance in older adults.
  • Also, in 2013, a team of researchers in the UK from Nottingham University released a study showing that staying active with both the brain and body could be effective in staving off Alzheimer’s disease. Ballroom dancing activates both.

As yet, there is no real treatment or cure for dementia. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, more than five million Americans have dementia and every sixty-seven seconds another person develops Alzheimer’s. Additionally, it is estimated that by 2050, those that have the disease will number sixteen million. Therefore, ballroom dancing is worth looking into as a treatment.

Ballroom dancing has the unique ability to work out the brain and stimulate it in new and novel ways. It also provides a physical workout and helps with balance and coordination. Additionally, it helps channel communication on both a social and physical level. For seniors with dementia, dancing might even bring back memories of the past and help delay cognitive deterioration. Ballroom dancing can help seniors keep from withdrawing from social activities and engage them with others.

At Connected Risk Solutions, we can help you stay current, not only with the latest rehabilitative methods, but also with whatever you need to help meet your agents’ insurance requirements. Please contact us by calling one of our offices in Chicago at 847-832-9100 or Phoenix at 847-832-9099.