Dance class in Queens helps adults with dementia exercise their short-term memory

ByCrystal Cranmore and Eyewitness News WABC logo
Friday, October 20, 2023
Dance class helps adults with dementia exercise short-term memory
Crystal Cranmore has more the adult dance class.

FOREST HILLS, Queens (WABC) -- Adults with dementia are making new memories through a dance program in Queens.

The dance class, created by Magda Kaczmarska, helps the older adults to exercise their bodies as well as their short-term memory.

The "Stories in the Moment" class is bringing families together, like Patricia Gmerek and her daughter Jean.

Patricia Gmerek was diagnosed with dementia in 2016, a debilitating illness that causes you to lose cognitive functions like communication and memory.

"(Jean) encourages me in everything I try to do," said Patricia Gmerek.

Gmerek's daughter, who was only identified as Jean, says she started taking over some responsibilities at home and started noticing her mothing asking the same questions over and over. It was not long before Jean discovered the dance class, and she says she noticed a difference in her mother soon after.

"It creates a better focus for her," Jean said.

Kaczmarska is a dance artist with a background in brain health. She partnered with the social adult day services program at the Queens Community House in Forest Hills to bring "Stories in the Moment" to older adults with dementia.

"When we engage in dance, people actually have better recall. They're able to remember new content that they've learned faster," Kaczmarska said.

For the first time since the pandemic, the Queens Community House is back in full operation. Until recently, all of their older adult programs were done over Zoom.

"There's no replacement for the one-on-one... especially with this population," Kaczmarska said.

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