Tag Archives: Natasha Goldstein-Levitas

The Marvels of Movement 

Dancing is like dreaming with your feet!  ~Constanze

 

During my mom’s dementia journey, movement often inspired and connected us. Here is one of those magical moments, excerpted from my book, Love in the land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey. The story is set in my mom’s memory care unit.

**

Rochelle, the activity director, sticks in another tape and soon Stardust is playing. images

“Let’s dance,” she says, motioning everyone to stand.

Mom looks up and I offer her my hand.

“Want to dance?” I ask her.

“What?”

“Want to dance?” I repeat, making a swirling motion.

“What else,” she says, standing up.

My parents have danced to this song many times, my mother coaxing my father onto the dance floor. I hold hands with Mom and move back and forth to the music. She laughs and does the same. I twirl her, and she walks around in a jaunty little circle. For a moment, her energy and charm have returned. I feel like I have found my long-lost mother. If my father were here, he would not be surprised. He is certain she will return to him and takes every word, every gesture of affection, every smile as a sign of hope.

“Hope is everything,” Dad told me just last week. “I find something hopeful and I milk it for all it’s worth. If it doesn’t work out, then I search for something else. Otherwise, I am in despair.”

I twirl my mom again. It is actually our first real dance together …

***

I loved my dance with my mother for the deep connection it gave me. My friend Natasha Jen Goldstein-Levitas reminds me of the other benefits of movement.  Natasha is a Philadelphia, PA based Registered Dance/Movement Therapist (R-DMT) and Reiki Practitioner who does heartfelt and creative work with those living with dementia.  She writes: “Among the creative arts therapy modalities, dance/movement therapy (DMT) offers the opportunity for individuals to express themselves, regardless of functional level. DMT engages the sensory systems and stimulates the physical, emotional, and cognitive areas of functioning. This movement is also a wonderful outlet for care partners.”

snoopy

Samuel Beckett sums this up, He says, “Dance first. Think later. It’s the natural order.”

To read Natasha’s blog, please visit:

http://blog.adta.org/category/creative-arts-therapy/

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Filed under Care Partnering, Caregiving, Creativity, Relationships, Taking Care of Yourself, The Arts, Uncategorized

Using Movement Therapy to Engage the Brain and Ignite Imagination and Conversation

 “We see in order to move; we move in order to see.”  — William Gibson

Seven people circle around the brightly colored piece of cloth, holding its edges and shaking it to the beat of I Love You For Sentimental Reasons.

“What does this fabric remind you of?” asks Natasha Goldstein-Levitas a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania based registered dance/movement therapist who reguarly works with these memory care residents.

“We’re shaking out a tablecloth,” one woman says, giving the cloth a brisk tug.

“We’re hanging clothes outside to dry,” says another.

“We’re cutting up onions for potato salad,” says another.

“When might we eat potato salad?” Natasha asks.4th of july

“A Fourth of July picnic,” a man answers.

Everyone lowers the cloth to the floor and they discuss who might be at the picnic. Perhaps an old friend, a brother, a spouse, a grandchild. When the conversation wanes, Natasha moves around the circle, offering each person a squirt of coconut-scented hand sanitizer and rubbing it into their palms. As Natasha gently massages the fragrant lotion into the hands of a woman who rarely talks or participates, Natasha asks, “What does this fragrance mind you of.”

The woman looks right at her and says, “Hawaii.”

Inviting People Into the Movement

“Any kind of movement can stimulate memory and creativity,” Natasha says. “Movement therapy is based on the principle that the mind and body are connected. It’s about helping the person feel empowered. I try to capitalize on the strengths of each person. We celebrate small successes, even if it’s just on making eye contact, taking deeper breaths, and saying a word.”

She concentrates on simple and focused movements, such as opening and closing the fingers and stretching arms overhead. She narrates every movement and frequently reminds people to breathe deeply.

clementinesSometimes food is integral to the movement. Natasha brings in a basket of Clementines and asks each person to choose one. They hold the fruits, gently squeezing them. They notice how each piece of fruit is unique. Natasha asks questions, such as. “What other orange objects can you think of? What does the aroma remind you of?” While they talk, they massage their arms by rolling the Clementine’s up and down.

In addition to physical movement, Natasha’s activities engage the senses, incorporating textures, aromas, colors, sounds, and tastes.         #

Natasha Goldstein-Levitas, 
R-DMT is a Registered Dance/Movement Therapist with over 14 years of experience working with high functioning to severely cognitively and physically impaired adults and older adults. Natasha’s recent writing will appear as a chapter in: Brooke, S.L. & Myers, C.E. (Eds.). (In press). The use of the creative therapies in treating grief/loss.   http://natashagoldstein.com/

Deborah Shouse is the author of Love in the Land of Dementia: Finding Hope in the Caregiver’s Journey.

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Filed under Care Partnering, Caregiving, Communication, Creativity, The Arts