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Boogie Nights: The benefits of music and dance

We all know that happy feeling you get when your favourite song comes on or you hit the dance floor with your friends. But have you ever thought about its role in elderly care?

Dancing and music are becoming a more important part of encouraging older people to stay fit and well in later life, helping to support physical and mental wellbeing. Here are just some of the ways dance and music can boost elderly care:

Physical wellbeing

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of dance is the potential for it to improve physical wellbeing, encouraging activity in a safe and fun way. It's also incredibly accessible, with people with most conditions being able to participate in some way. This is a key part of being healthy throughout our lives, but as we get older the amount we are out and about can drop, making hobbies even more important.

Research has found that activity can improve health, quality and length of life for older people, with those who enjoy intense physical activity for longer periods enjoying longer lives. In fact, this was true regardless of socio-economic and other factors such as body-mass index, smoking, marital status, ill health and frequency of contact with others.

Boosts engagement

For many people, of all ages, dance and music are fantastic ways for them to connect with those around them. Whether it's attending classes in the community, joining friends for a night of entertainment or just putting on a favourite record and talking about your memories, it can bring people from all different walks of life together.

Susan Venn, co-director of the Centre for Research on Ageing at Surrey University, says the social dimension is almost as important as the physical benefits older people can gain from dance, the Guardian reports.

"Engagement with others in the community has as many health benefits in terms of mental wellbeing as the physical benefits of keeping moving in later life," Ms Venn explained.

Mental wellbeing

Dance and music have long been used as tools to promote positivity in people of all ages. We've all put a certain song on to cheer ourselves up or remember a certain time in our lives, and this becomes even more important as we get older.

Conditions like Dementia can make life confusing and isolating for people affected. However, music can offer a valuable resource in a variety of ways. Apps have been developed by charities like Playlist for Life to make it simple for older people to put their favourite music together

Users are encouraged to create personal playlists of music that holds some significance to them, which research has shown can reduce agitation and distress. This has not only limited the need for medication in some patients, but also helps them to engage with family and friends through the music.

Go get your dancing shoes

Of course, before you start rigorously samba-ing or jiving your way through the day, it's always best to check with your GP to make sure there aren't any precautions you may want to take.

Finding hobbies and activities that inspire and motivate older people is a key part of any care support plan and the reason why we prioritise them in our homes. It can also have a big impact on finding the right care or nursing home for your loved one.  That's why finding out exactly what care home you're looking for can make your search for the perfect place much less stressful.

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