Saturday, February 4, 2017

Study: Dose of laughter good for dementia

Activities directors and other healthcare professionals here is a great dementia resource for caregivers and healthcare professinals.Benevolant Society

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Here is a way for nurses administrators, social workers and other health care  professionals to get an easyceu or two

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By Belinda Tasker, AAP Medical Correspondent
Laughter really could be the best medicine when it comes to treating older people with dementia.
Nursing home residents with dementia who were treated to amusing visits from a "humour therapist" and cared for by staff under the watchful eye of a "laughter boss" were found to be less agitated than those receiving more straight-laced care.
Four hundred residents from 36 nursing homes took part in the SMILE study led by University of NSW researchers who wanted to see if humour had an effect on people with dementia in terms of their mood, agitation levels, behaviour and social engagement.
The researchers worked with "humour therapist" Jean-Paul Bell, who co-founded the Humour Foundation and works as a "clown doctor" cheering up patients in children's hospitals.
Mr Bell replaced his crazy clown doctor outfit with one of an elevator attendant to become a "humour valet" for half the nursing home residents, most of whom had dementia, for three months.
The remaining 200 residents did not receive any extra doses of humor.
Mr Bell raised a smile or two by chatting away to imaginary people on the end of an old-style telephone handset and waved a magic wand about, asking residents what they wished for.
A member of staff at the nursing homes was also trained to be a "laughter boss" to ensure carers incorporated humour into their daily routines to maintain the cheery atmosphere.
Lead researcher Dr Lee-Fay Low said residents who received humor therapy showed a 20 per cent reduction in agitated behaviour such as aggression, wandering, screaming and repetitive behaviour.
She said she hoped the results would encourage more nursing homes to inject a bit more humor into their care routines.
"There's evidence to show that people with dementia still experience humor and to the same amount of enjoyment as people without dementia but they find different things funny," Dr Low said.
"I think in some facilities they are very task focused and think, 'we have to do baths, showers, food and cleaning' and because they are so busy looking after the clinical and physical needs of the residents they sometimes forget to look after the emotional needs so the lightheartedness (in the study) is part of that."
Mr Bell, who has set up the Arts Health Institute to train aged-care staff how to inject humour into nursing homes, said he was surprised by the changes in some residents.
"There was one resident who sat quietly and hardly spoke a word," he said.
"Over the next 12 weeks she blossomed, starting slowly with one or two words.
"Well, it wasn't long before she was greeting me and exchanging conversation - a new energy had awoken inside of her."
One in four people aged over 85 have dementia, which affects a person's ability to think, their behavior and ability to perform everyday tasks.

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