Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia

Date:
September 23, 2011
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Humor therapy is as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in patients with dementia -- and avoids serious drug side effects, a new study shows.

Humour therapy is as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in patients with dementia -- and avoids serious drug side effects, a new study shows.

The first major study of the impact of humour therapy on mood, agitation, behavioural disturbances and social engagement in dementia patients found both short term and persisting decrease in agitation, according to lead researcher, Dr Lee-Fay Low, a Research Fellow in the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales.

The SMILE study across 36 Australian residential aged care facilities involved the recruitment and training of a staff member to act as a "LaughterBoss" who worked with a humour practitioner with comedic and improvisation skills -- not unlike "Clown Doctors" used in hospitals to aid recovery and lift mood in children.

Jean-Paul Bell, the key humour therapist in the SMILE study, has set up the Arts Health Institute (AHI) to train humour practitioners and aged care staff. The AHI's core program, Play Up, provides a playful relationship with residents and staff in aged care, focusing particularly with people with dementia. The AHI is now focused on translating the knowledge of the SMILE study into residential aged care and continues to work with UNSW's Dementia Collaborative Research Centre to roll out the program nationally.

Dementia rates are expected to double to in the next 20 years in Australia to about 450,000, mainly due to an ageing population. About 6.5 per cent of people over 65 and 22 per cent of people over 85 have dementia -- an umbrella term used to describe up to 60 different conditions causing similar neurodegenerative changes in the brain.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of people suffering from dementia are troubled by agitation, a problem for both patients with the disease and their carers.

"Agitated behaviours include physical and verbal aggression, wandering, screaming and repetitive behaviours and questions. This is challenging for staff and often indicates unmet needs and distress in the residents of aged care facilities," says Dr Low.

The SMILE study found a 20 per cent reduction in agitation using humour therapy, an improvement comparable to the common use of anti-psychotic drugs.

"This shows humour therapy should be considered before medication for agitation, particularly taking into account its side effects."

A major 2009 study for the UK Department of Health found serious side effects of antipsychotics, including thousands of deaths and strokes, linked to the use of these drugs in dementia and recommended a reduction in medication rates and specialised training for carers in non-drug therapies.

In the SMILE study agitation decreased not only during the 12 week humour therapy program, but remained lower at 26 week follow up. Happiness and positive behaviours rose over the 12 weeks of the program, however, dropped as soon as humour practitioner visits ceased.

The SMILE Study results will be presented at the National Dementia Research Forum 2011 on the 22nd and 23rd September.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921093552.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2011, September 23). Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921093552.htm
University of New South Wales. "Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110921093552.htm (accessed August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins