Dancing never ages

A man enthusiastically grooves to the music during the third annual Senior Living and Learning Seminar on Aug. 23 sponsored by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. The expo, called “Music and Movement,” was designed to help seniors discover the benefits of exercise and activity.
Dan Meloy | The Michigan Catholic

Troy — Move the body, awaken the spirit.

An estimated 300 seniors got off their seats and on their feet at the Petruzzello’s Banquet and Conference Center in Troy as part of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan’s third annual Senior Living and Learning Seminar on Aug. 23.

The annual conference is an expo for Catholic Charities to showcase services it offers to seniors, while at the same time creating a vibrant atmosphere where attendees can “let loose.”

“This is our annual event to get seniors to learn about services and events at Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan offered throughout the area,” said Trista Johnson, Catholic Charities’ senior outreach worker. “You need to do something to get people out and about. This is our big event we do to get people to come so we can tell them about what we offer.”

This year’s way to get “out and about” is wellness in senior living, encouraging older adults to be active. And what better way to move than dancing, said keynote presenter Kaitlynn Sinke, a registered dance movement therapist and a limited licensed professional counselor.

“We’re never too old to dance,” Sinke told The Michigan Catholic. “The dancer inside of us never really dies. So we’re really honoring that part of us, that stays alive, stays youthful and joyful that brings that sense of health and wellbeing.”

Sinke told the group of seniors the importance of getting up and moving at least 30 minutes a day, saying how even standing up and tapping one’s toes to music can do wonders for a person’s physical and spiritual health.

“Stand and take a walk across the room, any success is great,” Sinke said. “Wellness varies, but I personally feel wellness is equanimity of mind, body and spirit. This harmonious feeling of, ‘I’m healthy, I’m joyful in every aspect of my life.’”

“When we move, not only do we feel physically better, but we feel better overall, emotionally or mentally, something that’s really unique to everyone that’s spiritual,” Sinke added.

After her opening address about the importance of moving around and living an active lifestyle, Sinke led conference attendees in line dancing and allowing them to go “freestyle” and show off their best moves.

“I call it ‘edutainment,’ where they can have some fun, but learn something about things they can do,” said Herschell Masten, director of older adult services and Hispanic outreach services of Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan. “We like to have an upbeat event. Everything we do is interactive.”

Masten said the annual expo is something seniors look forward to all year long.

“I just finished talking to a senior who had surgery recently, and she said the music helped her stay active and move,” Masten said. “We believe movement is part of being healthy and being part of the community as well. The fun aspect of this expo is why it’s growing every year. We have seniors start signing up for it before we even announce the dates.”

Kaitlynn Sinke, a registered dance movement therapist and a limited licensed professional counselor, speaks about the benefits of movement and an active lifestyle during the seminar.

After the morning dance session and lunch, which included a 50-50 raffle and door prizes, Sinke encouraged the seniors to keep moving.

“I hope there are more upcoming events for seniors – most adult day programs have some kind of event,” Sinke said. “It doesn’t even have to be a formal event; it can be just listening to the radio and moving around at home. Just get up and move.”

Johnson added the music and movement brought out a lot of energy many seniors felt they didn’t have.

“This first year we had ‘Brainstorm,’ learning to use your mind in different ways, playing all sorts of brain games,” Johnson said. “The following year, it was ‘Laughter Works,’ where we had people come in and they learned different physical activities, like juggling. It’s our mission at Catholic Charities to not only create events for seniors’ spiritual and physical well-being, but events where they look forward to participating.”


Catholic Charities’ senior services

For more information about events and programs provided by Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan’s Older Adult Department, call (248) 559-1147, ext. 3911.