Our sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools we have to stay in good health. Laughter decreases stress hormones and boosts the immune system. It even relieves physical tension by relaxing the whole body. Humor improves our mood and shifts perspective, helping us see our situation in a different light.
But a study has shown that humor can do even more than that: it can be as effective as medication in treating agitation in patients with dementia, without the serious drug side effects.
The study was conducted by the University of New South Wales, spanning thirty-six aged care facilities across Australia. Researchers employed a “humor practitioner,” not unlike a clown, to train staff how to incorporate playfulness and humor while engaging patients with dementia.
The study showed a twenty percent reduction in agitation using humor therapy, which compares to the results expected with the common use of anti-psychotic drugs. Happiness and positive behaviors steadily improved during the course of the 12 week program and when humor practitioners left at the end of the program, these rates dropped.
With dementia rates continuing to rise, specialized training and creative solutions may hold the key to improving our understanding toward the better care of patients.
For more information about Humor Therapy, visit the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor.
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