You don’t have to glide across the dance floor like Ginger Rogers or Fred Astaire to enjoy this wonderful pastime...
Dancing is a fantastic hobby for seniors, which can improve balance, strength and mobility, as well as provide a whole lot of enjoyment. You just need to be willing to give it a try! It is one of many therapeutic activities helping people find new vitality and meaning in their lives, thanks to the great work of Diversional Therapists around the country.
Put simply, Diversional Therapy is stimulating and enriching leisure based lifestyle activities, specifically designed for seniors, those less mobile or those with disabilities. These activities can be anything from Tai Chi and meditation through to gardening, art classes, crafts and, of course, dancing. Each is aimed at improving participants’ quality of life, self esteem and personal fulfilment by enhancing memory and problem solving skills, as well as promoting better movement and coordination.
According to Margie Kennard from Diversional Therapy Australia, the peak national body, Diversional Therapy is about “empowering people to fully participate in life through leisure activities of their own choosing. It’s all about choice. It’s not fun if it’s not of your own choosing.”
Dancing in particular, says Margie, is an activity that has been scientifically proven to have significant cognitive benefits. “Dancing with a partner, and dancing to music operates so many areas of the brain that it’s more beneficial than going to the gym and exercising.”
People at all levels of mobility and ability can join in dance classes, and carers, partners and friends are also welcome to participate. Classes can be tailored to suit people of all needs, even if you’re dependent on a wheelchair or walker.
Those with dementia and Parkinson’s Disease have been shown to respond well to rhythmic dances like the tango, which engage the parts of the brain affected by the disease.
Diversional Therapy activities like dancing can be life-changing and are for individuals and groups focussing on:
• Giving purpose and meaning to life through activity and involvement.
• Maintaining use of visual and hand skills.
• Allowing participants to work within their own capabilities.
• Encouraging communication, expression, socialisation and reminiscence.
• Strategies that help with memory, orientation, mood swings and daily living.
There are numerous private operators who can help you enjoy the fun and challenge of working your brain, body, and memory through dance. The best way to find these providers is through your local council. You can find out more about Diversional Therapy Australia at: www.diversionaltherapy.org.au