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Dance to combat dementia

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By HARRY GLENN HARRISON

For the Bulletin

Alzheimer’s disease is running rampant in the U.S., Finland, Uruguay, Iceland and Sweden, as well as other countries of the world.

With this in mind, Einstein College of Medicine in New York City did a 21-year study of senior citizens 75 and older to reduce the risk of getting dementia. The study shows the benefits of dancing. It reduces stress and depression, increases energy and serotonin, improves flexibility, strength, balance and endurance, strengthens bones and boost cardiovascular health, increases mental capacity by exercising our cognitive process and promotes dynamic and rapid-fire decision making which creates new neural paths.

Dancing frequently helped in the reduction of dementia by 76 percent. Doing crossword puzzles four times a week reduced dementia by 47 percent. There are other studies indicating that learning to play an instrument and learning a new language were very high on the list.

According to Dr.

Joseph Coyle, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who wrote an accompanying commentary: “The cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are critical to these activities, are remarkably plastic, and they rewire themselves based upon their use.”

Four small cities in southeast and southcentral New Mexico are trying to do something to help our seniors overcome some of the obstacles in aging.

In Carlsbad, the Senior Citizen Program charges an annual membership fee of $7.50 to seniors for all activities. Once membership has been paid, all dances are free.

The dances are held each week on Wednesday and Saturday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. There is always live music with the musicians donating their time and talents.

In Artesia, they have two free dances a week on Thursday and Saturday nights from 7-9 p.m.

There are no fees collected by the Artesia Senior Program, however, a hat is passed by a member to collect a small contribution to pay the musicians for their time and talents.

In Alamogordo, they have one dance every Friday night from 6-9 p.m. for $4. Two of those dollars go to the musicians and two dollars go to the Senior Center. They have many special activities for their seniors. One example is a steak dinner with all the trimmings for $5, then a dance for three hours for $4.

In Truth or Consequences, Senior Programs have one dance a month for 2-4 p.m. with a DJ at the Munson Center. They charge $3 for this dance. There are also line dancing classes held weekly in all four cities.

Las Cruces is larger than all four of the above cities combined, but it is not one of the four cities that was mentioned in this assessment.



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