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North Hills Monthly

Joy through Dance Program Spreading Cheer at St. Barnabas

Dec 31, 2019 11:30AM ● By Kathleen Ganster

The Alzheimer’s Association, Pittsburgh Ballroom and St. Barnabas Memory Care (SBHS) recently formed a partnership to provide a unique dancing program for St. Barnabas residents called the Joy through Dance Program. Through this venture, skilled ballroom dancers who have been trained in Alzheimer’s and related dementias by the Alzheimer’s Association are paired with Memory Care residents.

“SBHS looks for innovative ways to introduce joy into our residents' days, specific to their interests and abilities, and Pittsburgh Ballroom was looking for a pilot partner,” explained Manager of Memory Care Services Midge Hobaugh of how the program got its start.

The goal of the project is for participants to engage in dance instruction with the hope that it will help with mobility, aid in music recall, foster relationships and provide them with a sense of purpose and joy.

“Our Memory Care Program recognizes the power in music for recall and the power of experiences to increase joy in a resident’s day,” said Hobaugh. “Memory impairment comes with such challenges that we look for ways to bring back their memories, as well as feelings of belonging and power.”

The program was introduced to St. Barnabas residents in late November with weekly classes beginning in December. Through the program, residents will take 12 classes at the Kean Theatre in Washington Place, led by Pittsburgh Ballroom dance instructors.

The staff at SBHS identified residents that they thought would benefit from the program.

“We are so very happy with the outcomes thus far, and we are grateful for the opportunity through Pittsburgh Ballroom and the Alzheimer's Association,” Hobaugh said. “We are also grateful that our families said ‘yes’ to the opportunity. The goal of the program is to provide joy, and we’ve already witnessed that in our first few sessions.”