Community dance is an inherent element of arts-based approaches in healthcare and is frequently referred to as a key means of expression for populations who may not typically have access to dance. Nationally, community-based dance projects are available for those with Parkinson’s disease, depression, cancer and dementia, amongst others. Yet, academic enquiry into the effects of community dance on caregivers who also partake in dance activity is scarce. The focus of this study
aimed to provide empirical understanding of the psychosocial experience of dementia caregivers within a community dance class. There is specific focus on how dancing in a community setting can affect thematic dimensions of caregiver responsibility, caregiver relationships and external social engagement with other participants in the class. It is questioned whether this can affect their self-perceived psychological and social wellbeing. A qualitative research design was employed, using individual, semi-structured interviews with three caregivers for those with dementia diagnoses, all who attended community dance classes on a weekly basis. Through Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis of interview content, it was found that participants felt fulfillment and accomplishment in their role as a caregiver when attending dance classes, particularly when the person they were caring for enjoyed themselves whilst dancing. Dance also acted as respite, allowing caregivers to relax, escape and temporarily stop worrying about caregiving responsibilities. Relationship connectivity was promoted through joint participation in dance between caregiver and the person with dementia. Dance classes provided a support network for caregivers, enabling relatedness and common understanding amongst fellow caregivers attending. Caregivers also perceived physical, emotional, and psychological benefits derived from dancing. The findings of this research offer insight into the appropriateness of dance as a method of alleviating psychological and social stressors experienced by dementia caregivers. It also raises awareness of the accessibility and availability of dance classes within the wider community.
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Petts, Louisa. (2019). An exploration into the experience of family caregivers for people with dementia in a community dance class (Masters’ theses). Retrieved https://researchonline.trinitylaban.ac.uk/oa/thesis/?p=1216
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