88-year-old bringing awareness to dementia through dance

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WEST HARTFORD--This month the dancers at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in West Hartford are wearing purple in honor of Alzheimer's Awareness Month, and on Tuesday some of the dancers performed a free show at  the Chatfield Living Center, including one incredible grandmother.

"At this age you've got to keep your body moving," said Mary Dougherty, who is an 88-years-young dancer.

According to Clemens Lingerfelder from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio, dancing "really uses the left and right side of the brain to break down steps, patterns, techniques, but also the creative side, the art, responding to hte music."

A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine echos Lingerfelder's message. The study showed that ballroom dancing is the number one way for people living with dementia to slow down the effects of the disease--frequent participation in ballroom dancing led to a 76 percent risk reduction for dementia. "It's proven that of all activities--puzzles, going to the gym--dancing is the highest ranked activity to fight off Alzheimer's," Lingerfelder said.

And the ever-dancing Dougherty agrees. "You have to be able to remember--you can't just go with the guy and follow him, cause you're choreography will suffer," she said.

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