Senior Care SMILE Study: Humor Relieves Agitation in Alzheimer’s

By Michelle Seitzer / Posted on 23 September 2011

Yes, antipsychotic medications can help take the edge off the anxiety and agitation that many with Alzheimer’s experience, but there are serious risks and side effects to consider (and of course, meds are expensive too).

That’s what makes the SMILE study results so exciting.

Researchers with the Australian-based study “found a 20 percent reduction in agitation using humour therapy, an improvement comparable to the common use of anti-psychotic drugs,” says this Medical News Today article.

The study focused on residents of 36 senior care facilities throughout Australia, with Jean-Paul Bell, a trained humour therapist from the Arts Health Institute (AHI) heading up efforts in partnership with lead researcher, Dr. Lee-Fay Low of the UNSW School of Psychiatry in Sydney.

For the millions of older adults affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s worldwide, these positive outcomes are a welcome bright spot in what seems to be an endless stream of disappointing clinical trials and other research news about the debilitating disease. It’s also particularly encouraging for those residing in assisted living and other Alzheimer’s care facilities, where frequent use of these heavy medications occurs.

As per the piece, “Happiness and positive behaviours rose over the 12 weeks of the program, however, dropped as soon as humour practitioner visits ceased.”

Detailed outcomes will be shared at the upcoming National Dementia Research Forum.


Do you have something to say?