Thursday, 29 September 2011

Laughter good medicine for dementia patients

Updated at: 1133 PST,  Thursday, September 29, 2011
Laughter good medicine for dementia patients SYDNEY: Laughter may be good medicine for elderly dementia patients -- and best of all, it doesn't have side effects.

Australian humour therapist Jean-Paul Bell was originally a clown doctor working with sick children, but now he makes the elderly laugh through a programme called Play-Up.

Bell was also the key humour therapist in a Sydney-based study into the impact of humour therapy on mood, agitation, behavioural disturbances and social engagement in dementia patients, a study that showed those who took part seemed
happier.

"The whole idea behind the Play-Up programme and what we're doing at the Arts Health Institute is encouraging them to play more because we believe that they've got potential to keep playing right until you take your last breath," Bell said.

He set up the Arts Health Institute to train aged-care staff in fostering playful relationships with their patients, particularly those with dementia.

The study, called the SMILE study, took place over three years, involving 36 nursing homes and 400 residents. (Reuters)



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