Caring for someone with dementia is certainly not something to laugh about. Nonetheless, research is increasingly pointing towards the benefits associated with humor, and adding it into dementia care may be just what the doctor ordered to enhance quality of life for a senior loved one.
For instance, an Australian study recently announced that humor therapy works to reduce agitation in in people diagnosed with dementia as effectively as antipsychotic medications, minus the unintended side effects. Shared laughter connects us, and helps those with cognitive difficulties to feel accepted, safe, and at ease. According to 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 releases endorphins, which reduce stress hormones, and may even improve blood pressure levels and minimize pain for aging parents – all of which make it well worth including in your dementia care regimen, whether 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 at home:
- Add lightheartedness and silliness spontaneously each day. Sing goofy songs, dance around the house, tell simple jokes, and develop an atmosphere of joy for the older adult.
- Understand that what works today may not work tomorrow – or perhaps even an hour from now. Assess your loved one’s reactions, and if anything tends to increase agitation, shelve the idea and try again in the future.
- Remove quarreling and correcting from conversations with the senior. A straightforward “yes” and redirection to a different topic or activity goes a considerable way in preempting negativity.
- Remind yourself that it’s absolutely appropriate to be joyful. Laughter and dementia do not need to be mutually exclusive.
Let Midnight Sun Home Care help brighten life for a cherished older adult with dementia! Each one of our specialized dementia caregivers is completely trained and knowledgeable in a wide variety of creative, effective care techniques. Older adults achieve the extra benefit of enhanced socialization, along with crucial respite from care duties for family members, making hiring a Midnight Sun Home Care caregiver a win-win!
For more information about the Anchorage memory care experts that families trust, give us a call at (907) 677-7890 to arrange an in-home assessment. We’d love to find out more about your care needs and share useful resources that can help you provide the best possible care for your loved one.