Our niece is a beautiful dancer who has been competing (and winning) since she was very small. But even at the tender age of 12, our divine Miss M is a realist. I’m sure that like I did, she has dreams of becoming a professional dancer. Unlike me, however, this amazing young woman can see past the stars in her eyes. She knows how hard it is to make it as a performer, so she’s been considering more realistic options. She recently told me she’s interested in going to school for dance therapy. Since she’s a natural empath and people really respond to her, I can’t imagine anyone better suited to helping people.
When I learned about this new form of therapy for dementia, I immediately thought of M. This is a new treatment introduced recently in New South Wales known as silent disco. Dementia patients are fitted with headphones through which are played a wide range of dance music from the last eight decades. The music of The Andrews Sisters, Dean Martin, Elvis, and Taylor Swift all help lessen seniors’ anxiety and frustration levels while getting them engaged and moving. And once the music stops, the benefits continue. Reportedly, after a silent disco session, patients feel far more settled and behavioral issues are dramatically reduced for the rest of the day. It can even have effects on the frequency and severity of sundowning.
“One lady who hardly ever speaks a word, for an hour after the class she was going around talking fluidly to everyone. This switches on pathways in the brain that aren’t otherwise accessible. Everyone comes out smiling.” Alison Harrington, dance therapist
They took the same group of patients and put them through the same movement and music played through speakers rather than headphones. There were still some benefits, but the length and level of those benefits were reduced by about 50%. Even though they’re all hearing the same music at the same time, something about the privacy and focus provided by the headphones makes a big difference in the comfort level of dementia patients. That’s so interesting!
Lots of our friends are dealing with elderly parents, many with at least some level of dementia, and this is something people could do at home. Also, our wonderful older daughter works with seniors in Brooklyn. I’m hoping she can try something like this for her charges. Can’t wait to hear how it comes out!