Studies have suggested that laughing can help improve mood and strengthen abdominal muscles, and researchers now believe that a good chuckle may even be powerful enough to replace pharmaceuticals meant to reduce agitation in dementia patients.
Sometimes, physicians prescribe antipsychotic medication to alleviate feelings of intense irritation in individuals with severe cognitive decline. Unfortunately, these drugs come with a host of serious side effects.
As a result, researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia conducted a study to determine whether “humor therapy” can be effective in improving mood and quality of life for dementia patients.
They discovered that giving these individuals something to laugh about reduced their feelings of agitation by about 20 percent, a decrease comparable to that derived from antipsychotics.
“This shows humour therapy should be considered before medication for agitation, particularly taking into account its side effects,” said lead researcher Lee-Fay Low.
Authors of the study noted that signs of agitation in people with dementia include aggression, walking around without direction, shouting and engaging in repetitive behaviors.