Kairos Alive! Research
Kairos Alive! Dancing Heart™ Publications
These published papers and presentations are based on research on the Kairos Alive! Dancing Heart™ with older adults in independent, assisted and long-term care living situations.
Supporting Research Studies
The “Creative Aging Study”
A 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?
The “Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly” study was published in the June 2003 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine as part of a 20 year Aging Study by Einstein College of Medicine. In this study, 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
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.”
Publications on Kairos Alive!
Enhancing Cognitive Fitness in Adults, a Springer Publication – The chapter titled “Coming Alive: Kairos Dance Theatre’s Dancing Heart™ – Vital Elders Moving in Community describes our program, The Dancing Heart™ – Vital Elders Moving in Community and the companion Memory Care Program. These programs were created in Minnesota in 2005, and are pioneering, national award-winning, evidence-based programs that are transforming the lives of elders, their families, and caregivers in long-term care, memory care, and other health and community settings.
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.
Additional Research Links
- “Shall I Compare Thee to a Dose of Donepezil?”: Cultural Arts Interventions in Dementia Care Research
- NEA The Arts and Aging – Building the Science
- NEA Summit on Creativity and Aging: Main Summit Findings
- Costs for Dementia Care far Exceeding Other Diseases, Study Finds
- Arts Therapies and Dementia in the 21st Century, by the International Centre for Research in Arts Therapies
- Neuroscientists Reveal the Number One Exercise for Slowing Down the Aging Process