Twice a week the main lounge of the Aveo Bayview Gardens retirement village transforms into a creative and energetic space filled with uplifting dance tunes as part of the Dancing, Aging, Cognition, Economics (DAnCE) fall prevention study conducted by the University of Western Sydney.
The study is being conducted over a 12 month period with the purpose to investigate if fall rates in older adults can be reduced by engaging in rhythmic and mentally challenging activities such as dance.
In May 2013 interested retirement village residents attended an information session held by The School of Science and Health at the University of Western Sydney.
Those in attendance then completed an initial screening, followed by a brief phone questionnaire asking about their quality of life, mood, social engagement, past experience with falls and their level of confidence regarding learning new motor skills.
A fall risk profile was then calculated for each resident after six basic muscle tests were performed measuring balance, walking speed, vision equity, reaction times to light and colour, and cognitive processing speed arranging letters and numbers.
Aveo Bayview Gardens was selected to receive the free dance program. The village residents who participate in the dance study enjoy a social hour of folk dancing, instructed by Cathy Wild every Tuesday and Thursday, which gently exercises the body and stimulates the brain.
An assortment of dance steps are introduced each week, accompanied by interesting music to form dance routines. Folk music from France, Greece, Italy, the USA and Israel has ladies and men enjoying a laugh whilst coordinating new moves and increasing balance in a creative setting.
This July, after 12 months and 80 hours of dancing, the study participants will not only have a number of dance routines in their repertoire, be more socially engaged with firmer friendships, and have improved their mental and physical health, but will have participated in a critical research study into fall prevention.