Dancing...Part of A Health Fair for the Elderly?

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Julia K Donegan, MS, RN
College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus,, OH
Brenda S. Stickney Stickney, ADN, BSN, MS, RN
College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH

Learning Objective 1: Identify new opportunities to implement strategies to address Healthy People 2020 Focus Areas.

Learning Objective 2: Analyze course activities for potential group interactions involving movement with vulnerable populations.

Dancing… Part of a Health Fair for the Elderly?

Healthy People 2020 identifies Physical Activity as a focus area.  In planning a Health Fair for the Elderly who live in a high rise, students elected to include dancing as an activity to met this focus area. 

We advertised our Health Fair offering all the traditional stations: diet counseling, information on dental hygiene, using the services of the Veterans’ Administration, medication information, and swing dancing lessons. The clients attended in higher number than usual. They questioned “what time does the dancing start?” Faculty were somewhat surprised by the eagerness of the attendees. After an hour of the traditional health fair, the tables were moved and the music began. One of the students was an experienced teacher of swing dancing and with a classmate demonstrated the dance to music the students selected. The residents were eager to learn and quickly selected students and other residents with whom to partner. The dance was modified to be appropriate to the learners with a slower pace, less taxing movements and inclusion of assistive devices as needed. Just standing and moving from one foot to the other was the best some could do.  Residents who seemed barely able to ambulate were dancing in a variety of modes! We extended our Health Fair an extra half an hour because of the enthusiasm of our audience. This was a totally new experience for the faculty.

The lesson learned was that Physical Activity is important to all. The opportunity to dance is limited in the elderly and they eagerly participated. Dancing is a valid form of Physical Activity and meets the overarching goals of Healthy People 2020 “to improve the health of all age groups”.