A 2011 study by Australian researchers focused on the use of humor to reduce agitation in nursing home residents with dementia. The Sydney Multisite Intervention of SmileBosses and ElderClowns (SMILE) study investigated the effect of providing humorous interactions with residents through the use of a character dressed like a bellhop, who kindly jokes with participants. Residents who were initially silent and withdrawn became animated and engaged.
The researchers found a 20% reduction in agitation during the 12-week program, as compared to a control group. Once the humor therapy concluded, happiness and positive behaviors returned to previous levels, but agitation levels were lower at the 26-week follow-up point. The Arts Health Institute is training nursing home staff members in Australia to act as humor practitioners to continue this work.
For a more detailed article on the “humor doctors,” click here: The Arts Health Institute makes people with dementia SMILE. To see a short trailer of the movie, click here: The Smile Within.
For Dr. El’s suggestions on reducing resident agitation, download my free report, “Stop Agitating the Residents! 17 Secrets from Psych That Will Transform Care on EVERY Shift.”