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Christine Bryden

Come Dance with Me

Come Dance with Me is a new dance program, which was launched by Alzheimer’s Australia Queensland as part of Dementia Awareness Month this year. The weekly class in Brisbane is designed to empower people with dementia to participate in their community while engaging in social and physical activity.

Giving a person the opportunity to dance regardless of having dementia is an important part of the national goal of creating a dementia-friendly community. The program is non-verbal, so is excellent for people with dementia to enjoy an activity with their supporters, without feeling overwhelmed or outpaced, as so often occurs in other social settings.

The program is open to anyone living with dementia, and his or her family and friends. Each class is easy to follow and caters for all ages and all ability levels. There are no dance steps to remember, no trying to recall which way is left or right, and definitely no wrong way to dance. All participants join in on an equal basis and are given positive encouragement to express themselves through dance. No experience in dance is needed, just a willingness to enjoy yourself.

The class has been developed in collaboration with Beverley Giles, who brings over 25 years experience working with people with dementia to the program. Tiina Alinen, who brings to the classes her creativity and a welcoming approach to people with dementia, leads the weekly classes.

The purpose is to give people with dementia the opportunity to do something they love and simply move to the music. It is an activity that a person with dementia can share with their supporter, bringing joy, fun and laughter. Movement to music, as a physical and social activity, has positive body and brain health benefits for both people with dementia and their family and friends.

Christine BrydenChristine Bryden

Christine Bryden was diagnosed in 1995 with dementia at the age of 46. She is the author of the books: Who will I be when I die? and Dancing with dementia (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London). She is a well-known advocate for people with dementia, and was featured in ABC TV’s Australian Story at the end of June this year.

Christine has an Honours degree in Biological Sciences, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a graduate diploma in Counselling. Her career started with research in the pharmaceutical industry in England, then scientific publishing in England, Holland and Australia. She spent 10 years with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in scientific information, research planning and policy development. Christine was then appointed to lead the science and technology Division of the Australian Prime Minister’s Department, retiring in 1996 due to her diagnosis with dementia. She had been awarded the Public Service Medal in 1994.

Christine was elected to the Board of Alzheimer’s Disease International in 2003 – the first person with dementia to be elected to this Board. She has appeared in the media, written articles and given public talks across Australia and in many countries, sharing what it is like to live with dementia. She was the first person with dementia to give an opening keynote speech to the annual Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International in 2001, and gave the opening plenary address again in 2011, reflecting on the many changes she had seen in the decade between her two plenary talks.

Christine is an Alzheimer’s Australia Queensland Ambassador. She is a member of the Consumer Dementia Research Network, and the Research Foundation Scientific Panel of Alzheimer’s Australia. Christine was appointed at the beginning of this year to Queensland’s Statewide Dementia Clinical Network Steering Committee.