The Latest in Dementia Research: Dancing and Dementia

An image of a smartly dressed older couple dancing together, as has been recommended to help with Alzheimer's by recent dementia research

Dementia Research Recommends Dancing

With levels of dementia rising (dementia research has identified that there are set to be one million people with dementia in the UK by 2025) and still no cure to be found, scientists are constantly looking for further methods to help slow (and ultimately prevent) the condition.

Currently, many people with dementia are prescribed various medications to help control their symptoms, although at present time these medicines are only prescribed to those in the early or middle stages of the disease. The fact that these drugs can often cause a myriad of side effects for those who take them, as well as the fact that the treatment is unavailable for those in the late stages of dementia, has prompted heath care professionals to increasingly turn to drug-free methods of treatment.

One such method of treatment is dance classes, a variety of which have been springing up all over the UK in an effort to help manage the condition. Some of the classes offered have ranged from ballroom dancing, to Zumba, to Morris dancing and are usually organised by care homes for their patients, hospitals for local residents, or community centres for those receiving domiciliary care.

These classes may sound like they could be too much for those in the later stages of the disease, but they are in fact run with this in mind, so often operate on a ‘can-do’ basis, where those with less mobility are given dances moves and exercises that they can perform whilst remaining seated.

The Benefits of Dance

The reported benefits of these sessions are manifold; anecdotal evidence suggests that those who engage in these dance classes reap long-term physical, social and emotional benefits from them. Indeed, participants have reported an improvement in motor skills and a decrease in falls due to increased balance and muscle strength. Patients also found that sleep came easier because of increased levels of physical activity.

The mental and emotional benefits are worth noting too: carers reported that the dance classes could be used to decrease agitation in dementia sufferers, which in turn decreases stress levels for both them and their carer. Carers further endorse dancing as a method of treating dementia due to the trust it builds between them and the sufferer. In addition to this, participants in these classes often reported a boost in mood and overall well-being, no matter how advanced their condition.

Scientists aren’t sure exactly which parts of the dancing exercises are the most beneficial, but it is certainly something that they are continuing to look into, especially after reports that suggest these classes may improve memory and slow the mental decline of those with dementia.

Anecdotal evidence far outweighs formal studies undertaken on this matter, however, and this is something that researchers are keen to rectify. If the most beneficial elements of the dance exercises are identified, then work can begin to incorporate these elements into the treatment of dementia sufferers, and perhaps we may then begin to see a marked improvement in symptom management of dementia.

Learn More

You can find out more about how dance classes are helping people with dementia here and here.

The 17th to the 23rd May 2015 (this week) is Dementia Awareness Week, organised by the Alzheimer’s Society. If you’d like to learn more about the symptoms of dementia or how to live with/manage it, we recommend visiting their website. Here at Two Counties care, our specially trained staff members are passionate about keeping up with advances in Alzheimer’s treatment, since we are familiar with caring for those with dementia. We also run the evening Farnham Alzheimer Café on every fourth Tuesday of the month and you can download our brochure here.  If you or a loved one would like to learn more about our home care services, contact us today by calling 01252 891125 or emailing info@twocountiescare.co.uk and we will get back to you as soon as we can.