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Study shows music and dancing enhances quality of life for people with dementia

Life enrichment departments in OMNI Health Care long-term care homes have a long history of promoting music and dance programs, and new research is showing that toe-tapping to tunes is more than just fun – it also plays an important role in enhancing quality of life for people living with dementia.

Many people enjoy music and dancing throughout their lives, and people living with cognitive impairment show improvement on specific quality indicators when exposed to music and dance, according to the research.

During a period of 10 weekly sessions involving 22 participants, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that people with dementia experienced spikes in their sense of humour, imagination and intuition when played familiar music they could dance to after the sixth session.

The purpose of the study was to improve quality of life for people living with dementia using music and dancing to trigger memories and provide social engagement.

The findings, which were published in the July 2019 edition of the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias, “reversed the stereotypical understanding of this group of people being passive and immobile,” says lead researcher Ting Choo, in a statement on the University of Otago website.

“They responded to the music greatly and showed enthusiasm in moving to the music regardless of their physical limitation,” Choo says. “Positive responses such as memory recalling, spontaneous dancing and joking with each other were observed in every session.”

You can read more about this study by clicking here.

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