A new study from the Arts Health Institute in New South Wales, Australia, found that weekly clowning sessions were as effective as standard antipsychotic medication in reducing agitation among people with Alzheimer’s disease. For the study, a specially trained “Elder Clown” conducted weekly humor sessions using a host of laughter-inducing tools that ranged from music and mime to visual sight-gags, irreverent jokes and funny props. Between these sessions, trained staff members continued to conduct humor therapy with residents. By the end of the study there was a reduction in both physically and verbally aggressive behavior. In addition, residents showed signs of reduced agitation at least 26 weeks after therapy began.
IAHSA and Alzheimer’s Disease International are sponsoring a study tour in California October 2012 that will explore research and treatment protocols for early stage dementia as well as provide a shared learning experience through site visits to communities providing care for individuals with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Please join us on this important tour.