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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | September 14, 2010

Alzheimer’s Foundation of America Awards Brodsky Grant to Dance Therapy Group

NEW YORK, NY — The Alzheimer's Foundation of America (AFA) recently awarded a $25,000 grant to the Marian Chace Foundation (MCF) of the American Dance Therapy Association, Columbia, MD, to provide nonverbal communication training to improve interactions with individuals with dementia. 

AFA, a national nonprofit organization, awards The Brodsky Grant annually to an AFA nonprofit member organization to create, support or expand an innovative program or service that may be replicated in other communities. The grant honors Bert Brodsky, AFA’s chairman, and his wife, Muriel, for their generosity and outstanding commitment to helping others.

MCF plans to use the funds to refine a pilot program in which dance/movement therapists and adult educators trained caregivers in nonverbal communication techniques. The approach relies on movement and nonverbal behavior to interact with individuals with dementia, who typically lose communication skills as the brain disorder progresses.

“A dance therapist observes the expressive movement of a person and builds on that expressive movement,” said Donna Newman-Bluestein, a dance movement therapist and the program’s principal investigator. She recently completed the nine-month pilot at Friends Village, a continuing care retirement in Woodstown, NJ.

The Brodsky Grant will support the development of a manual and an instructional video to train dance therapists who in turn will teach the approach to caregivers across the country.

In the pilot program, trained caregivers were better able to empower people with dementia to express their needs, and the participants with dementia were more alert, engaged and cooperative, according to Newman-Bluestein. Elements of nonverbal communication include eye contact, facial and vocal expression, and posture and body shaping.

“Most of our nonverbal communication is outside of our awareness, but it’s inside the awareness of a person with dementia. The more we are in touch with our nonverbal communication, the more we can see the effect we have on people with dementia,” said Newman-Bluestein, who has worked with people with cognitive challenges for the past 30 years.

Eric J. Hall, AFA’s president and chief executive officer, commended MCF for creatively addressing this challenge.

“This program offers a critical connecting point. In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, it’s incumbent on all of us to look for innovative and positive ways to meet the changing needs of people with dementia,” Hall said.

In addition to awarding the 2010 Brodsky Grant, AFA bestowed an honorable mention to the Alzheimer’s Poetry Project, which is housed at the Brooklyn Arts Council in Brooklyn, NY, for its Spanish language programming. The program uses dichos or folk sayings that are passed mouth to ear as a means of providing creativity and social stimulation to the Latino population living with dementia.

Since the Brodsky Grant was first awarded in 2005, previous winners have expanded a pet therapy program, produced a documentary about Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, enhanced an adult day program with technology-based activities and recreational therapies, provided crisis intervention, and initiated unique training to improve quality of life in the home environment.

In addition to this grant, AFA awards multiple grants twice a year based on a competitive review process. Only nonprofit member organizations of AFA may apply.

The Alzheimer’s Foundation of America is a national nonprofit organization headquartered in New York and made up of more than 1,400 member organizations that provide hands-on programs to meet the educational, emotional, practical and social needs of families affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related illnesses. AFA’s services include a toll-free helpline, counseling, educational materials, a free caregiver magazine and professional training. For information, call (Toll-Free Helpline) 866-AFA-8484 or visit


Contact: Carol Steinberg
Phone: 866-AFA-8484

Alzheimer's Foundation of America  866.232.8484