BrainMatters - Fall/Winter 2018

Baycrest Health Sciences & Baycrest Foundation Publications

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Page 19 of 27

THE POWER OF DANCE and your health T here has been a shift in attitudes regarding aging, health and wellness in the past decade. Theatre, dance, art and storytelling are emerging as part of the compliment of effective approaches to health care. At Baycrest, arts-based programs designed for older adults are now integrated across the centre to provide clients, families and staff with meaningful experiences that acknowledge the whole person and the importance of creativity at every stage of life. Baycrest understands the vital importance of engaging in activities that bring meaning and purpose, and that tap into new avenues for self-expression. Through donor support, Baycrest integrates the arts into healthcare as an approach to help with recovery and as a tool to help people stay healthy, active and engaged. Residents of Baycrest's long-term care home are offered a spectrum of arts-based programming that contributes to their overall physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Baycrest is working to enhance the offerings in the hospital and for our community- based clients as well. Involvement in the arts improves mood, reduces social isolation and contributes to overall well-being. Research indicates that people who are physically active, cognitively stimulated and relatively free of anxiety might reduce their risk of dementia. Studies show that the arts, and dance in particular, can help reduce anxiety, depression and agitation in older adults. Dancing is one of the best workouts for brain health because it combines physical exercise, cognitive and social engagement. "While all three factors are beneficial alone, together they seem to be the magic bullet," says Dr. Susan Vandermorris, neuropsychologist at Baycrest. Through support from the Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation, Baycrest has teamed up with Canada's National Ballet School (NBS) to create a specialized health and wellness dance program that provides an opportunity for people with dementia to access dance and enjoy its benefits. The program is called Baycrest NBS Sharing Dance Seniors. "Introducing dance into the long-term care setting offers an opportunity to positively impact cognitive and physical health, self- expression, social cohesion, and deepen creative engagement for individuals with dementia and their caregivers," says Melissa Tafler, Coordinator of Arts and Health Programs and Arts-Based Learning Specialist at Baycrest. "Often, different genres of music and the accompanying imagery can evoke certain moods and memories for participants, which helps them connect to positive feelings and experiences." 20 BrainMatters FALL/WINTER 2018

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