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Home  /  Home Articles   /  ‘Ballet 4 You’ – Ballet 4 Alzheimer’s A programme to build and maintain a healthier body and brain for our Senior Citizens around the world.

‘Ballet 4 You’ – Ballet 4 Alzheimer’s A programme to build and maintain a healthier body and brain for our Senior Citizens around the world.

In a Western society obsessed with youth, celebrity and materialism, it is time for us to challenge the stereotypes associated with aging.  Aging is an inevitability, an absolute that will occur with every living person regardless of socio-economic status, level of education, or ethnicity. It is time to embrace the notion that aging is a natural process, and that how well we age will depend upon our physical, mental and emotional health, the connections we have with others and the dignity afforded elders in society.  With age, comes wisdom which is the product of knowledge, experience and kindness.

We know that a flourishing arts community goes hand in hand with a healthy society and it is through the arts that we have the power to inspire, heal and motivate.

During these unprecedented times due to the Coronavirus, and the further marginalization of our elderly populations forced into social isolation “for their own good”, senior citizens around the world have been cut off from physical contact with their families and friends and their extra-curricular social activities. The challenge posed is ‘What can we do as a compassionate society to make social isolation less soul destroying for the aged population’?

Firstly, staying physically active is a must in order to stay strong, fit, avoid falls and improve cardiovascular health. This means that given the management of Covid-19 with it’s social isolation, consideration must be given as to how best to achieve this. Fortunately, with the help of technology there are various exercise programmes available online and some of these fitness programmes can be maintained in the privacy of one’s own living room. This leads me to describe a special programme proving popular with Senior citizens called Ballet 4 You. Developed as a ballet inspired exercise programme by Lisa Purchas in Perth, Western Australia for people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or Early Stage Alzheimer’s disease, these unique exercises focus on balance, strength, posture and the use of the body and brain in simple cross-lateral sequences. It has subsequently emerged that this programme also has huge benefits for senior citizens in general.

More than 50 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, collectively one of the leading causes of death amongst our aged population, including Lisa’s Mother in 2016. This event inspired Lisa to research Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies to avoid her getting it and to consider possible ways to delay the progression of the disease. Her investigation unearthed some interesting results. She found that along with common sense strategies everyone should adopt for optimal health, namely regular exercise, reduced stress, sufficient sleep, a balanced diet with lots of antioxidants, the Mediterranean diet in particular, mental stimulation and social interaction, there were aspects specific to dance that could help as Alzheimer’s Prevention strategies and which may also delay the progression of the disease in those already diagnosed.

Most people don’t realise that a person with Alzheimer’s disease derives the same benefits from a regular exercise programme as everyone else, namely improved fitness and cardio-vascular health, balance, strength, posture and with the use of the body and brain in simple cross lateral sequences their neural pathways are also lighting up.

As a classical ballet dancer, Lisa Purchas has long understood the physical, mental and emotional benefits of dance, ballet in particular. In 2017, she decided to use these skills to develop Ballet 4 You, a ballet inspired exercise programme for women with MCI and Early Stage Alzheimer’s to focus on balance, strength, posture and the use of the body and brain in simple cross-lateral sequences. The positive results from her classes where she taught her programme privately, encouraged her to go further afield. In 2019 with the help of a Western Australian Film maker Hugh Buttsworth, they filmed each exercise and uploaded these fully sponsored video clips to YouTube so that people with Alzheimer’s and their carers could access the programme free of charge, anywhere in the world and anytime of day in the privacy of their own home. Google translates into 300+ languages so that the programme reach would be universal.

We are not talking about training Senior Citizens or people with cognitive difficulties to don their pointe shoes and join National Ballet Company’s any time soon; we are talking about modified ballet exercises that are easy to follow, are clearly presented and gentle on the joints. The beautiful music accompanying the video clips is complements of an Australian Sponsor, Musical Director of the Queensland Ballet, Nigel Gaynor. Ballet is such a beautiful, graceful form of exercise and the Ballet 4 You programme is focused on building and maintaining a healthier body and brain.

The Ballet 4 You programme can be accessed through the dedicated Youtube channel Ballet 4 You Ballet 4 Alzheimers, or via the Ballet 4 You website https:// www.ballet4you.com or by following Ballet 4 You Ballet 4 Alzheimers on Facebook. There are five fully sponsored exercise clips currently uploaded to our Youtube channel and as more clips are sponsored they will become available on the playlist.  Participants don’t need special equipment and the online programme is completely free of charge. Anyone can use their laptop, tablet, PC, ipad, notebook or smartphone to access our programme.