DANCE as a way of staving off dementia is gaining ground internationally, with research shining a ray of hope on sufferers, loved ones and carers.
“[Dancing] dramatically reduces the occurrence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” claims an article in the New England journal of Medicine. “[Freestyle movement] requires constant split-second, rapid-fire decision making, which is the key to maintaining intelligence because it forces your brain to regularly rewire its neural pathways,” states the article.
Frequent freestyle dancing has been shown to reduce the risk of dementia by 76 per cent, which is twice as much as reading.
Fremantle Wu Tao practitioner Emma Jack turned her love of dance into a way of tackling her mother’s early onset of Alzheimer’s.
“When she is agitated I put the music on and she will meet my energy which is calmer.”
A member of the Memory Bridge dementia organisation, Ms Jack left her job in 2015 to train in creative expressive therapies for dementia sufferers, which included a US scholarship.
She was drawn to Wu Tao, but worried it was too physical.
Then she discovered Australian ballet dancer Michelle Locke had developed a dementia-specific version in collaboration with the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service.
It combines a gentler movement, suitable to older dementia sufferers.
A study by DBMAS at Alzheimer’s Australia WA found Wu Tao lowered resident agitation and reduced carer stress.
Ms Jack is running a series of weekly sessions at the North Fremantle community hall on Thompson Road.
Bookings are essential by February 24. To register call Jade 9432 9676, or for more information call Emma Jack on 0404 029 519.
by JENNY D’ANGER