Seniors Dance to Curb Alzheimer’s

Jennifer Wegerer
By Jennifer WegererFebruary 27, 2014

Studies suggest that the Latino population faces a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease than others. But, staying physically active can help ward off symptoms. Getting in better shape through regular exercise, like dancing, can help seniors keep their bodies fit and their minds sharp.

The causes of Alzheimer’s disease are not yet fully understood among scientists, but it is thought to be a result of a combination of genetic, life style and environmental factors. Though, researchers have recently linked Alzheimer’s to certain health conditions, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, all of which are more prevalent among the Latino population in the United States.

The Impact of Alzheimer’s on the Latino Population

The Alzheimer’s Association reports that Latinos are 1.5 times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s than other ethnicities, and they are less likely to be diagnosed. Today, around 200,000 Latinos in the U.S. are reported to have Alzheimer’s disease, with that number reaching 1.3 million by the year 2050.

According to the New York Times, experts point to a number of reasons why Latinos are predisposed to conditions that may lead to Alzheimer’s. Financial and language barriers prevent some Latinos from seeing a doctor, which delays a diagnosis. Cultural adjustment for Latino immigrants and education level are also factors.

How Fitness and Dancing Curbs Alzheimer’s

Exercise is essential to staying healthy, both physically and mentally. A recent study from the University of Maryland demonstrates that exercise improves the efficiency of brain activity associated with memory. Even among seniors already dealing with mild cognitive impairment, moderate exercise that stayed within the recommended guidelines for older adults enhanced brain function and memory over the course of just a couple of months.

To inspire Latinos to get more exercise and stave off memory loss, the Latino Alzheimer’s & Memory Disorders Alliance (LAMDA) in Illinois created a dance program called danzona popular musical genre in Cuba, Mexico and Puerto Rico.

Danzon Improves Fitness and Memory

LAMDA developed its danzon program to give Latinos a culturally relevant form of exercise that they would be comfortable doing. Danzon offers seniors the chance to make promenade-like moves to slow, elegant music, or they can salsa to more energetic songs.

Dancing is good for seniors because it provides physical exercise and a mental workout. Seniors memorize dance moves and plot their steps on the dance floor, all while working with a partner. Having that opportunity to get together and socialize also contributes to memory and overall health.

Where Can Seniors Go to Dance?

In Chicago, LAMDA danzon classes are hosted at Casa Maravilla, a housing development for seniors. Some niche senior living communities may provide seniors dance programs designed to encourage regular excercise.

Seniors might also try community-based dance companies and classes offered through local organizations, schools and churches. Dance schools and dance halls often hold social dances open to the public. Of course, fitness centers have their share of exercise and dance classes that seniors can try.

Dancing Boosts Seniors Health

Danzon, ballroom, square dancing, tap, or jazz; dancing helps boost a senior’s fitness level and memory. So, find a partner and take a spin on the dance floor. Whether you have two left feet or glide like Fred Astaire, you are sure to have a fun time and make some great memories.

Do you know any seniors who dance? How has it helped their memory? Please share your insights below.

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Jennifer Wegerer

Jennifer Wegerer

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