Hallmark Carehomes
Dancing can help dementia patients

3 September 2012

Dancing can help dementia patients

Danzon, a street dance craze in Mexico, has been shown to improve the symptoms of dementia with sessions twice a week.

Dr Azucena Guzman Garcia, a dementia specialist working on her PhD study at Newcastle University, organised for care home residents to take part in twice weekly sessions of the Latin ballroom style dance. The activity showed a significant improvement in cognitive, behavioural and emotional fluctuations due to the enjoyment of the music and social interaction.

Dr Guzman Garcia said, “While dancing is often considered entertainment in care homes, I believe that it can be useful practice. I found that these dance classes helped calm agitation and improved mood and quality of life for people with dementia. There are also obvious advantages in terms of ­physical fitness. I witnessed the joy that people got from taking part in the dancing and for residents who were watching, the laughter and happy memories it ­generated.”

Dr Ian James, head of Newcastle’s challenging behaviour team, said, “The Danzon activity saw reductions in residents’ agitation and apathy. This is noteworthy because often these conditions are treated with medications known to have highly problematic side-effects.”

Mary Watson, owner of the Rosewood Villa Residential Home, where the classes were held, said, “We could see how much people enjoyed the dancing. It brought back some lovely memories from their younger days which they were able to share with us. We found that the men wanted to join in – which is important as it can be harder to find activities they want to take part in. On dance days the men made an effort to dress smartly and told us how they were looking forward to it which was really nice.”