Kairos Research

Research Studies

The “Creative Aging Study”

landmark study directed by the late Dr. Gene Cohen, Director of the Center for Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, documents the positive impact of elders’ participation in ongoing creative programming. The study, commissioned in 2001 by a consortium including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Institute of Mental Health and the AARP, has followed weekly arts programs, a senior choir, a visual arts group, and a multidisciplinary arts group conducted by professional artists in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and New York City, respectively. Preliminary results show significant positive trends. Elders involved in arts activities are not only showing stabilization, but actual improvement with regard to physical, social and emotional well-being, while in most cases the control group of non-arts participants is showing decline. Examples of improvement include fewer falls, decreases in medication and doctor visits, reported decreases in loneliness and depression, and increased involvement in community activities. Significantly, the average age of study participants is 80, greater than life expectancy in the U.S. Dr. Cohen concludes that the positive impact indicated by the preliminary results demonstrate that “community-based cultural programs for older adults appear to be reducing risk factors that drive the need for long-term care.”

 

Can Dancing Prevent Dementia?

In a 20 year study by Einstein College of Medicine published in the June 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that of physical leisure activities evaluated [swimming, bicycling, dancing, participating in group exercises, team games such as bowling, walking, climbing stairs, doing housework, and babysitting], “dance was the only physical activity associated with a lower risk of dementia.” “Shall I Compare Thee to a Dose of Donepezil?” Cultural Arts Interventions in Dementia Care Research – Kate de Medieros, PhD and Anne Basting, PhD

 

Research Study of Kairos Dancing Heart™ Program

A year-long research study conducted by Carla E.S. Tabourne, PhD, CTRS, and graduate student Yongho Lee of the University of Minnesota, Department of Kinesiology; funded by the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. Study found that older adult participants in weekly Kairos Dancing Heart™ workshops at the Walker Methodist Senior Club in Minneapolis experienced a large physical impact on their health. Most participants said that their health was better and the dance and movement improvisation activities in the program helped them stay healthy by improving flexibility, coordination, balance, and endurance. The program also had an effect on cognitive and psychosocial aspects of health. Kairos Dancing Heart™ participants at Walker all agreed that the shared reminiscence and discussion aspects of the program increased their memory and socialization skills. Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit (Includes Kairos Alive! programs) Designed for the arts and aging services fields, this resource explains why and how older adults benefit from participating in professionally conducted community arts programs and offers detailed advice and examples on program design, implementation, and evaluation – including Kairos Alive! programs. Developed in partnership with the National Center for Creative Aging and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Available online or order a printed copy.

 

Dance and Parkinson’s Disease

Read “Dance Class Lifts Parkinson’s Patients’ Spirits”, an article about a collaboration between Rush University Medical Center and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to bring dance to a group of Parkinson’s patients in Chicago, and an AARP Bulletin about the effects of dance on PD:  People with Parkinson’s Discover the Joy of Dance.

 

Dance and Emotional Well-being

In a study undertaken in 1997 by graduate students Maria Konstantinidou and Yvonne Harahousou, 57 elder women at a day program in Thessaloniki, Greece participated in weekly dance sessions. The study found that “the elderly involved in dance movement therapy sessions improved their perception of their physical state, bodily condition and their general appearance.” […] “In particular, dance provides the participants with opportunities to artistically express thoughts, to be creative, to express feelings and emotions, to promote personal integration, and to perceive feelings of self-worth and well-being.”

 

Dance and Fall Prevention

Researchers have found a correlation between dance and improved physical functioning contributing to fall prevention. In “Elders Urged to ‘Dance to Your Heart’s Content,’” (April 2003) Barbara Resnick, Associate Professor at University of Maryland School of Nursing and registered geriatric nurse practitioner, reports, “In addition to dance’s aerobic benefits, there is a significant benefit related to increased flexibility and balance. Low-impact aerobic dance in a group of older women who participated in a 12-week course resulted in improved flexibility and balance along with improved cardio-respiratory endurance. Linked to improvement in balance, dance activities have also been reported to decrease falls in older adults.” Studies cited by Resnick also found that regular dancing led to “evidence of improvement in bone density. In particular, the women who had a history of osteoporosis had a statistically significant increase in their bone mineral density over a 12-month period.”

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