At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, our expressive therapy staff helps to bring out the best in our long-term care residents. Staff considers each resident’s unique background and creates meaningful ways for residents to engage with one another and the world around them.
Dance is a big part of expressive therapy at HRC. Whitney DiGeronimo, MA, R-DMT, a registered dance/movement therapist with the American Dance Therapy Association, recently introduced a new movement-support group called Dance for Parkinson’s.
Whitney provides a weekly service for a group of residents living with Parkinson’s disease, where participants explore dance, music, and self-expression in a safe and stimulating environment. The group focuses on mind/body/emotional connection, increased self-awareness, and personal empowerment. Participants can practice planned and spontaneous movement, flexibility, coordination, focus, and vocal exercises. Various genres of dance and music are explored, and creative social interaction is encouraged.
Whitney explains, “Dance provides an opportunity for improved physical, social, emotional, and cognitive well-being. For our residents living with Parkinson’s disease, physical engagement is essential. The structure of the Dance for Parkinson’s service not only targets the motor-symptoms of the disease, but also provides emotional support, as well as cognitive engagement and an opportunity for social interaction.”
In order to provide a specialized service to meet the needs of our residents living with Parkinson’s disease, Whitney has recently completed the Dance Teacher Course / Introductory Dance for PD® Training Workshop. This training is presented by David Leventhal, Dance for PD® founding teacher, at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn, New York. The Dance for PD® program comes from collaboration between the Mark Morris Dance Group and Brooklyn Parkinson Group.
At HRC, Whitney is facilitating a service with a similar structure to that of the “Dance for PD®” model, but designing the choreography to best highlight the strengths and abilities of our residents. The program is titled “Dance for Parkinson’s at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center.” Two graduate student interns assist Whitney by helping teach the movements and providing support.
When asked why do you attend Dance for Parkinson’s at HRC? Bill, a resident of HRC and member of the group, responds, “It keeps the bones and muscles working. Things I never used before, now I am using them. They’re not getting stagnant.”
Janet, another resident and dancer, states, “I like to dance because it is freeing. It makes me feel more free, and I love the music!” And program participant Judith adds, “Dance for Parkinson’s makes me feel like I can think.”
Whitney shares her enthusiasm about the program by saying, “Dance for Parkinson’s at HRC is off to an exciting start!” It is inspiring to see the residents moving and singing together, connecting with one another, and eager to learn new material. I am always looking forward to see what each new session will bring.”