The Dancing to Remember program is a collaboration of the Center for Memory Support & Inclusion, Giving Voice Foundation, and A-Marika Dance Company..
“We did the rumba and the hustle, and we did the waltz,” said one woman, who took the lessons with her beau of 26 years. “I loved it. I loved it,” she said.
Relaxing fun, and pleasant reminiscing
Dancing to Remember is a new program that lets people with any level of dementia and their caregivers enjoy dancing while easing the stress of their everyday lives.
The free program is sponsored by Episcopal Retirement Services’ Center for Memory Support and Inclusion in partnership with the Giving Voice Foundation and A-Marika Dance Company in Sharonville.
While some people can be intimidated by the idea of dancing, they shouldn’t fear these lessons. The idea was to offer something that those living with dementia and their caregivers could learn together. Lessons are fun and easygoing. All dancing levels are welcome.
The successful program will return on six Thursdays from Oct. 27 through Dec. 8 (skipping Thanksgiving), said Shannon Braun, director of the Center for Memory Support and Inclusion. At the end of that program, the Cincinnati Opera will perform an aria and a dynamic selection of holiday songs.
People living with any stage of dementia and their care partners deserve opportunities to dance away the stress of life.
Dancing Queens and Kings
The woman who loved the waltz said she and her boyfriend tried dance lessons two decades ago, around when they started dating.
But this time, “We have leather soles on, and so we do a lot better,” she said, noting that makes the spins she loves much smoother.
The waltz was the favorite dance for the two of them because “it’s more romantic,” she said.
“Even though we’ve been dating for 26 years, it did bring us closer,” she added, “because I grew up in the 60s, so I’ve pretty much been dancing my whole life. But he did very little of it."
“So maybe we weren’t quite able to get it together before because one of us can hear the music and know our feet are supposed to be planted at certain times. One of us doesn’t. So now, we’re getting it.”
Her beau noticed that dancing made their relationship more fun, which is a goal of the program, and though she has dementia, she isn’t done learning new things.
Vivian Leavell, another participant, danced on different days with her twin sons, Pierre Leavell and the Rev. Pierce Leavell.
“It was good exercise for me,” Ms. Leavell said. “I enjoyed it very much. Growing up, I enjoyed dancing. It’s still fun; I love it.”
When her sons were children, they all would dance while cleaning the house.
She noticed a different mood between her and her sons during the lessons, she said: “I discovered that as we started. I said, ‘Hmm. Different.’ The personality changed with us.”
“Yeah, you became more relaxed,” Pierre told her. “Because you got to dance.”
“We’ve always enjoyed putting some music on,” Pierre said.
“And twirlin’ around a little while,” his mom said.
Dancing to Remember happens at A-Marika Dance Company, 10831 Sharondale Road, Cincinnati, 45241. To register, contact Shannon Braun at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-979-2302.
Caring for a person with dementia
Being a care partner for a person with dementia can be a challenging and, at times, overwhelming task. While caring for others, it is crucial to spend time out and recharge. Programs like ‘Dancing to Remember’ can give the care partner and the person living with dementia a change of pace and some much-needed stress relief.
What will your next steps be?
Visit info.erslife/dementiaguide to download “A Guide to Better Understand Dementia” for answers to frequently asked questions. Or, if it is time to consider a residential placement, a person-centered, dignified memory care household at Marjorie P. Lee may be an option. The specially trained staff provide engaging individual and group memory therapies. For a tour of our campus, contact Karen Immell at 513.533.5000.
At Episcopal Retirement Services, our premier communities include the Marjorie P. Lee Retirement Community and Deupree House, located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati.
We promise families — as part of our not-for-profit, person-centered care mission — that their loved ones will never be asked to leave due to financial hardship. Care for elders who outlive their resources is subsidized by generous community donations to our Good Samaritan Mission Fund.