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Blog | Can Dance Improve Quality of Life and Cognitive Functions?

Dementia has become a global public health priority, and its incidence is estimated to increase in the coming years. According to official data from the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 55 million people affected by dementia worldwide, of which 65% are women. Additionally, 10 million new cases are diagnosed each year, making dementia one of the most important public health challenges worldwide.

In light of this situation, it is increasingly important to advance research that allows for early detection of this pathology in order to address it more effectively. While science progresses towards treatments that aim to modify the disease, it is important not to neglect the people currently living with dementia. This is why non-pharmacological therapies continue to generate great interest, as they can improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their caregivers without causing severe adverse effects.

When we talk about non-pharmacological therapies, we refer to those that do not involve pills or medications yet treat the symptoms. For example, psychotherapy, music therapy, or transcranial magnetic stimulation are well-known treatments for dementia symptoms because they are harmless (meaning, they do not pose a risk to the person's life), easily applicable, and some of them can also be tools to delay the progression of dementia. This is due to their ability to generate neuroplasticity, which is the intrinsic capacity of our neurons and neural networks to modify their connections and functions in response to new information, development, sensory stimulation, or brain damage.

Dance as Therapy

The Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona and the Campus Salut of Fundació Castell de Peralada, two entities committed to people's health, launched a new cognitive stimulation activity through the Dit-Dit dance project in 2023. The main mission of this practice is to develop tactile awareness by treating the skin as an organ that produces specific knowledge. On the occasion of International Dance Day, we want to highlight the importance of this initiative for improving mood and promoting mobility among people with dementia.

"Through a very simple practice, we manage to relate different parts of the body and set them in motion, helping to create mobility while also exercising memory," says Aimar Galí, dancer and choreographer in charge of the Dit-Dit workshop. "An activity like this, in which professionals from the center, users who come to spend the day, and their families can participate together, allows for creating bonds and facilitates the integration of external life into the center," concludes Marina Guitart, psychologist and coordinator of the Day Center at Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona.

Let's Keep Dancing!

Ace Alzheimer Center Barcelona has explored Dit-Dit dance as a multidimensional activity that directly influences the cognitive function of the people who practice it, with a positive impact on improving physical functions (flexibility, strength, and balance). It is capable of providing sensory, motor, and visual stimulation, as well as facilitating social interaction, memory, motor learning, emotional perception, expression, and interaction.

There is always a good reason to start dancing! When we dance, we leave our worries behind, even if it's just for a few minutes. The Dit-Dit project was born from the desire to improve the quality of life of the people involved, while also improving their perception. There are many studies and articles that talk about the benefits of dance for improving our physical and mental health. So, now more than ever, let's keep dancing!

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