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Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Start Now: Your older self will thank you
ADD A LITTLE SALSA—Guest Blog--By Matt DeMargel--November is Alzheimer’s Awareness month, and here’s how one sector of seniors are fighting off this vicious disease.  Boomers and beyond throughout the country are lacing up their dancing shoes to take part in the one physical activity researchers found to combat dementia -- ballroom dancing!

Currently, an estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease, and this year alone, more than 500,000 Americans will die from a form of Alzheimer’s. Now the sixth leading cause of death in the United States,  Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia will kill 1 in 3 seniors. 

There is good news. Frequent participation in ballroom dancing led to a 76 percent risk reduction in dementia according to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Older the better
Whether it’s Tango, Tap, Swing or Salsa, research shows astonishing risk reduction of dementia through ballroom dance.

Ellenor Shepherd, 83, has been gliding across the ballroom floor for 16 years at her local Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Ellenor says ballroom dancing plays a big role in her plan to stay mentally fit.

“I keep up with all the research and want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to fight off dementia,” Ellenor said, “I have no doubt that my mind and memory stays sharp because I practice ballroom dancing regularly. It’s good exercise for my mind and my body.”

Not only that, but the AARP reports people with Alzheimer's disease are able to recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.

“Ballroom dancing offers both mental and physical stimulation because you’re moving to the music while trying to learn and recall the steps,” says Jack Rothweiler, head of Fred Astaire Dance Studios. “Along with the social benefits that come with dancing, it’s the perfect activity for seniors looking to keep their minds and body fit in a fun and healthy way.”

How Dance Helps Reduce Risk of Dementia

Dancing helps seniors build up what scientists refer to as “brain reserve” that may protect people from Alzheimer’s later in life.  Brain boosting dance activities include:

--remembering the steps
--moving in precise time to the music
--adapting to the movements of one's partner

        Brazilian researchers found a 50 percent improvement in balance and fewer falls among seniors who participated in a half hour of ballroom dancing three days a week for three months. (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State in Rio de Janeiro)

       Dancing boosts bone density, along with muscle strength and coordination. (American Council on Exercise)

        The side-to-side motions of many ballroom dances, such as mambo and swing, strengthen the tibia, fibula, and femur, and also help in the prevention or slow loss of bone mass associated with osteoporosis. (Journal of Aging and Physical Activity)

       Tango dancing helps older adults with balance. (Journal of Aging and Physical Activity)

        Social dancing is a great way to keep older Americans engaged. Aside from giving people something to enjoy, it reduces social isolation and the aches and pains frequently experienced in old age. (Dr. Jonathan Skinner, Queens University of Belfast, Ireland)

Terrible truths about Alzheimer’s and dementia**

        More than 5 million Americans are living with the disease.

        Every 67 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer's.

        Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

        Approximately ½ a million Americans die each year from  Alzheimer’s.

        1 in 3 seniors dies with Alzheimer's or another form of dementia.

        In 2013, 15.5 million caregivers provided an estimated 17.7 billion hours of unpaid care valued at more than $220 billion.

        Alzheimer's disease is the most expensive condition in the nation! In 2014, the direct costs to American society of caring for those with Alzheimer's will total an estimated $214 billion, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid.

Data Source: **Alzheimer’s Association

San Diego: Here’s one place to start

Fred Astaire Dance Studios (since 1947) has ballroom and Latin style dance lessons for all ages and abilities in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Professional instruction will allow you to learn dances from the Foxtrot to Salsa faster and more easily than you could on your own.

 8303 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Suite 205
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 499-0180

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