Monday, November 7, 2016
Dance therapy healing for dementia, Alzheimer's disease: VIDEO
Lee Wright couldn't wait to drop his cane.
The 75-year-old shimmied and shuffled his way to dance therapy on Thursday as saxophones, trumpets and trombones from Glenn Miller's big band classic "In The Mood" reverberated through the NewCourtland's LIFE Allegheny Center in Philadelphia. The Brooklyn native joined about 15 other seniors to tap their feet and shake their shoulders in a circle for the dance and movement session.
Wright found a spot in the group that surrounded dance therapist Natasha Goldstein-Levitas and he tossed his cane to the side. After the hour-long session, he described how he felt.
"Some kind of wonderful," Wright said with a smile.
Dance movement therapy describes the psychotherapeutic use of movement to connect the brain, emotion and motor functions of the body. It is gaining popularity in the Delaware Valley for adults with memory and cognitive impairments, but still needs to make its way to Delaware.
Clinicians and therapists say they would like to learn more about how the therapy can complement traditional care for adults with dementia and Alzheimer's as more adults age in the community. Alzheimer's is the sixth-leading cause of death in the country and currently 17,000 Delawareans live with it.
People with dementia-related disorders such as Alzheimer's experience anxiety, frustration and fear, along with physical changes, as memory loss progresses.
Thos with Alzheimer's may have trouble connecting to society and loved ones. Dance, experts say, can help bridge that gap and improve quality of life.
Goldstein-Levitas, a dance therapist who contracts with adult day and long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, said she enjoys using creativity and expression to reach someone who is losing their sense of self and "unlock their potential."
She acknowledges that there still needs to be more evidence-based research on the practice, but looks forward to speaking about the therapy at the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter's annual Delaware Dementia Conference Nov. 16.
"It helps to bring that sense of awareness and connection with each other," she added.
Mildred Lumpkin closed her eyes and threw her head back as soon as the music started at the NewCourtland facility. She shed her bright blue scarf and black zip-up jacket as the tracks jumped from Chubby Checkers to Nat King Cole.
"We got to wake up Allegheny Avenue," Goldstein-Levitas called out as she went over to each dance participant. She asked them about what ice cream they loved and what their favorite pie is, in honor of the approaching Thanksgiving Holiday.
"My father loved coconut cake," Lumpkin said. Three layers of it, she added.
Talking and dancing combined keeps people engaged, Goldstein-Levitas said. She lightly touches the shoulders and hands of those who cannot speak or are shy to let them know they are part of the experience.
"I'm always pushing the envelope," she said. "It's ultimately about stimulating reminiscence."
Dance creates social interaction that is familiar to people, said Dr. James Ellison, a geriatric psychiatrist and the Swank Foundation Endowed Chair in Memory Care and Geriatrics at Christiana Care Health System.
"It's friendly without being too challenging," Ellison said. It also helps improve flexibility and balance, especially for people with dementia who, like those with Parkinson's disease, can experience loss of motion.
Medications used for dementia can mitigate cognitive impairments, Ellison said, but will not increase social interaction.
"You could say it addresses a need that isn’t filled by medication," he said. "It’s a wonderful way of humanizing the treatment we give to people with cognitive impairments."
Finding new programs
Delaware's senior population continues to grow and population experts estimate that there will be almost 300,000 adults over age 60 in the First State by 2030. With growth like that, innovative programs are needed.
Dancing may not help restore memories, but it may help ease problematic behaviors such as agitation which is common among individuals with dementia who are frustrated with their changing abilities.
A diagnosis of dementia or Alzheimer's disease doesn't have to be debilitating or make someone lose their quality of life, says Julie Thomas, associate director clinical services for the Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter.
Adds David Johnson, REC Center coordinator for the association, "I think it is important for us to incorporate new avenues of expression for them to communicate."
People dance and move organically to communicate in new ways. Goldstein-Levitas, who teaches dance therapy sessions at the Alzheimer Association's Marlton rec center, will tell participants to "stomp out fear" or use their arms and hands to sway and, "Throw away our aches and pains. Throw away fear."
It's very playful and fun, she said, and releases stress with the smallest movement, even just in breathing.
Kathleen Graham-Frey, a recreation therapist for Gull House, an adult day facility run by Beebe Healthcare, said that movement to music is crucial for her residents. The center averages about 35 people a day, and nearly all have Alzheimer's or dementia.
Story Source: The above story is based on materials provided by DELAWAREONLINE
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