Improving Aging African American Health Through Dance

Penn Institute on Aging pic
Penn Institute on Aging


Attorney, inventor, and philanthropist Robert Kasirer first came to the US as a child after his parents survived Nazi Europe. His parents went on to co-found Golden State Health Centers, which owns and operates skilled nursing facilities. Robert Kasirer serves as a managing member of KFT Capital, a real estate investor which also works with skilled nursing facilities, and is also a director at JacobRose Family Foundation. He also spent time as a consultant for the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Aging (IOA).

Founded in 1979, the IOA supports research and education on aging and aging-related diseases. The IOA recently reported on a study on older African-American adults and the potential benefits of African dance. The study, called the Rhythm Experience and Africana Culture Trial (REACT!), was created to address the specific aging-related cognitive issues that affect African-Americans twice as often as Caucasians. This may be due to a suite of factors including less access to quality education in the African-American community, as well as risk factors for dementia, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other vascular diseases.

Research has shown that physical activity can improve cardiovascular health as well as neurocognitive function. REACT! works with African-American adults between age 65 and 75 in two groups – the first of which will practice African dance three times a week, while the second group will receive education on African culture and healthy behavior. The study hopes to discover which of the two interventions will better serve this population and hopefully discover useful tools that can help correct social and racial disparities for other communities as well.


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