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How juggling is beneficial for older people

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In this article, I want to explain how juggling for people with higher ages leads to a more varied and healthier life and can even support the development of different parts of the brain of older people to stay “younger”. For explanation, I have found a case study and organised an interview with an experienced juggler (Roland Grela) who works with older people together and gives different training sessions.

 

Sounds exciting, right? Let´s dig into it and enjoy reading this Article 🙂

Juggling to support older peoples brain development

A published research paper from the Hospital University Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany on the 9th of July in 2018 has been made, to test the outcome(s) of a 3-month Juggling Training program with older people.

 

For this study, a group of 44 people with the age from 50 to 67 participated on a 3-month program that indicated regular Juggling Training sessions.

 

The researchers found out, that a larger part of the visual association cortex in the brain has been developed during and right after the 3-month program was finished.

 

The visual association cortex part of the brain is specialized for the perception of movement in a room.

 

Unfortunately, when the participants have stopped juggling for another 3 months, the expanded area of the brain has regressed back to its normal size. You can read more about the study through the following link (the article is in German language): 

 

Article to the UKE study

To summarize, the study represents the fact that older people can continue to develop their brains through activities such as juggling, and that the brains of older people still can develop positively with the right activities and training. This can be interesting for people who suffer from dimensia or other diseases that affect the brain negatively.

How juggling can support those, who already have a disease

Roland Grela is with his 38 years an experienced juggler and visits retirement homes to practice various juggling exercises with the residents regularly. In this interview, Roland explains how older people react upon this activity and what he thinks how juggling and other simpler excercises help people in the older ages:

Roland Grela, Juggler and fire artist from a German city called Moenchengladbach.

Link to his website for bookings:

https://rg-shows.de/

Lars: Hi Roland. My first question to you is, how you got the idea to give juggling lessons in elderly homes?

Roland: Due to the Corona-lockdown, I couldn´t further process with my work as an fire artist since there weren´t many festivals and events going on. I had to find an alternative. From my personal interest, I decided to start a training to become a certified caregiver so I could start working in elderly homes. A good friend of mine from a join-in circus in Duesseldorf (a city nearby Moenchengladbach) already took me to elderly homes where we organised Juggling-programs for older people during my training program.

Lars: Interesting. And how does such a juggling program for older people looks like exactly?

Roland: There is not really a clear structure of the program. I visit the eldery homes with all my juggling tools and improvise a little bit when I am there. This is because every person there is differently handicapped and I do not know what I can do with the participants beforehand.

When I arrive at my planned location, I decide spontaneously what movements or excercises I can do with each person. It often happens that we all sit together in a circle and every person tries to throw and catch two juggling balls. This is a great exercise for everyone who sits in the wheelchair, for example.

Lars: And how many participants do you usually have during such a training?

Roland: When I am alone, the amount shouldn´t be higher than 20 people. 10-15 is pleasant for me.

Lars: How long do you train with the older people?

Roland: One training session does not exceed 90 minutes. Most of the times, I am in the elderly homes for just one time. For example for summer fests.

 

There is also the opportunity to train with the same people for about one time per month.

 

I am also planning to offer the managers from the elderly homes a more structured program such as a circus program for about one week where I acquire a short performance with the group which can then be performed in a show.

Lars: Which positive effects for the participants do you already have recognised?

Roland: A bigger factor is definitely the variety of the all-day rhythm that comes with this program. The people are happy about the new exercises they make. It is something new for them which is very positive.

 

What I also often recognise is the happiness about the small successes the people have. They are already celebrating when they throw and catch a ball. I think that juggling is especially helpful for those who are in the beginning phase of sicknesses such as dimentia. With juggling, you support the concentration ability due to the complex movements which may lower the outcome of such sicknesses.

Lars: Which other goals do you have with your juggling training?

Roland: I would like to be more present in companies and work with employers there for stress reduction and to support body movement in the office. Additionally, I want to realise the mentioned circus program in elderly homes. In general, I want to bring juggling closer to the people since juggling brings a lot of advantages to people in all ages.

 

Otherwise, I am excited about the next conventions this year. For example the Juggling Convention in Neuss from 13th to 15th of October.

Lars: Is there anything else you would like to share with people in- and outside the juggling community?

Roland: Yes. If you want to start with juggling or other related activities, I recommend to search for a juggling meeting in your city so you can connect with people. Meeting with other jugglers and learning from them is much more helpful than watching YouTube tutorials or the like.

 

On one of my pages (wirjonglieren.de) you can find a selection of juggling meetings in the County NRW in Germany.

Lars: Thank you very much for the interview Roland and that you brought us some insights in how the work with older people of a juggler looks like.

Roland: No problem. You are welcome.

As shown by the article of the study and the interview with Roland, juggling does not only has positive effects on the body and mind, but also provides opportunities for older people to have a more varied everyday life.

So, is it worth it for older people to start juggling?

As long as it is still possible and if a juggling trainer can give support with the first moves, it is a great opportunity for everyone to start juggling and receive the positive effects from it. It is a great activity not just for younger people, but also for older ones.

 

The negative impact from brain sicknesses such as dimentia and the like can be lowered with regular juggling training. Also positive developments of the brain from older people can arise.

 

Thus, juggling is a well-suitable activity for older people. And everyone else 🙂

Sources

If you want to share other experiences or stories you have made with juggling or just want to say something about this article, you can contact me or leave a comment. I hope you enjoyed reading this Article. 

 

Until then.

 

Lars from FlowSoul

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