I was thrilled to see my colleague Heather Hill and myself quoted in the March/April 2010 issue of Journal of Dementia Care in this article by occupational therapist Sarah Whyte in Edinburgh. More than seeing myself quoted, it's seeing that because of the articles we've written, Ms Whyte was convinced to try a dance group with people with dementia. Quoting me in my article in this very blog, "A Glimpse at a Dance Therapy Group with the Elderly with Dementia", Whyte says "Newman-Bluestein (2007) points out that elderly people have to move to maintain physical and emotional well-being." Yup. That sounds like me, or as I like to say in my groups, "Use it or lose it."
And, "Newman-Bluestein (2007) writes that for those with dementia, dance therapy can spark and develop an emotional rapport between people." The caregivers of people with dementia in the nonverbal communication training I have been leading for the past 2 months at Friends Village at Woodstown NJ are observing this to be true in the dance therapy groups they've watched me lead. Residents with severe dementia kept their eyes on me for 45 minutes as I took advantage of every opportunity within the group to interact with them repeatedly. I was told that one woman who hadn't smiled in 3 weeks and another who never smiles both smiled.
I was also so glad to see that based on Hill's article, "Out of the cupboard ... to the brightness" Whyte discovered the error in the research they'd been trying to do. Hill is quoted, "The important thing in working with dementia sufferers is the quality of the experience in the moment." Once they focused on that, they realized, "When we allowed ourselves to stop looking at a patients' behaviour purely to complete a form, we were exposed to a wealth of feelings and pleasure that our patients were demonstrating that revealed their well-being far more than any score sheet could. . . Each week during the session, we would observe patients dancing, laughing, smiling, engaging in repartee with the choreographer and with each other".
Again, Whyte writes "It was an absolute joy to have the dance groups every week, and this experience has shown us that seated dance is an invaluable activity to provide for our elders with moderate to severe dementia in an in-patient setting."
As I said in "A Glimpse..."
"Why every site for folks with dementia doesn't have a dance therapist is truly beyond me! People seem to understand instinctively that the elderly respond well to music, but they seem to miss the point that the elderly HAVE TO move to maintain physical and emotional well-being. There is no vitality without the body, and dance therapists are all about engaging people's vitality."