Providing dementia care for a person you love is certainly not something to laugh about. Yet scientific studies are frequently pointing towards the benefits of laughter, and incorporating it into dementia care may be just what the doctor ordered to enhance quality of life for your loved one.
For example, an Australian study just recently revealed that humor therapy can aid in eliminating agitation in people who have dementia as successfully as antipsychotic medications, with no unwanted side effects. Shared laughter connects us, and helps people who have cognitive difficulties to feel accepted, safe, and at ease. As stated by Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks, “When anyone is sick or having a hard time, they still like to laugh. I spend a lot of time teaching people that feelings don’t go away, and it’s okay to get back to that zone.”
Laughter also produces endorphins, which suppress stress hormones, and can even improve blood pressure and minimize pain for aging parents – all of which make it well worth adding to your dementia care regimen, either by enrolling in a laughter yoga class together with your loved one (which incorporates clapping, singing, silly poses, and of course, laughter) or simply implementing ideas including these in your own home:
- Add some lightheartedness and silliness randomly through the day. Sing goofy songs, dance around the house, tell simple jokes, and develop an environment of happiness for the senior.
- Recognize that what works today might not work tomorrow – and sometimes even an hour from now. Evaluate your loved one’s responses, and if anything seems to boost anxiety, shelve the idea and attempt again at a later date.
- Remove arguing and correcting from conversations with the older adult. A straightforward “yes” and redirection to a different subject or activity goes a long way in preempting negativity.
- Emphasize to yourself that it is completely acceptable to be joyful. Laughter and dementia don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Let Generations at Home help brighten life for a cherished older adult with dementia! Each one of our specialized dementia caregivers is completely trained and experienced in numerous creative, effective care techniques. Older adults achieve the added benefit of improved socialization, coupled with necessary respite from care duties for family members, making a partnership with a Generations at Home caregiver a win-win!