Humor Benefits Seniors Living with Alzheimer’s or Dementia April 02 2013


We’ve all heard the expression, “Laughter is the best medicine.”  For seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia, humor is often welcomed, responded to, and appreciated. The inclusion of humor in memory-care programming offers a variety of positive benefits for people living with a memory-loss condition. Humor can relieve tension, decrease agitation, and boost overall well-being. It has also been found to promote a bond between the person with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregiver, as well as enhance their level of communication and social interaction.

There are a variety of activities that can be done in the home or at a long-term care community that can incorporate the use of humor.

In a home setting, sharing a joke, reading a comic strip, or simply watching a sit-com on television can often elevate the mood of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Looking at old family photographs or telling a humorous story from the past can encourage smiles and laughter, or even evoke memories.

In a memory-care community, an activity director can easily include humor in the daily programming as a group or a one-on-one activity. Blowing bubbles, playing corn-hole with a rubber chicken, reading a funny story or joke aloud, or sharing humorous trivia can often prompt giggles and laughter. Props such as a red clown’s nose, funny glasses and hats, or puppets can also get residents laughing. Try placing a collection of one-liners (large-print) in a jar and have each resident select one and read it aloud. Consider developing a humor cart or basket that can be used for room visits. Include DVD’s, joke books, enlarged comic strips, and entertaining photographs. Monthly entertainers could include a stand-up comedian, a singer who combines humor with music, or a magician, juggler, or storyteller. Pets can also bring a smile to the face of a person with Alzheimer’s disease. A dog or cat can often promote humor as well as provide a number of other therapeutic benefits. In addition, as a caregiver, remember to smile and laugh when it is appropriate. Smiles and laughter can be contagious.

Humor can play an integral role in the life of a person living with a memory-loss condition. By participating in carefully designed activities, humor can enable a person with Alzheimer’s disease to view the world from a more relaxed, positive, and joyful perspective, thereby, increasing the overall quality of life. As Donna Lashaway, Program Services Coordinator at Arden Courts of Parma put it, “Humor is an important aspect used in the daily programming for our residents. Making people smile, chuckle, or have a good laugh is very rewarding for everyone involved. When you smile at someone, you get a smile back. How awesome is that?”

Shadowbox Press Conversation Cards are developed to provide dementia activities for seniors living with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia. Each of our two decks features vivid photography, large-print text, and more than 450 questions. The questions are designed to encourage adults living with memory loss to reminisce, recall memories, share stories, and improve the quality of engagement between themselves and their caregivers. For more information or to place your order, call us toll-free at (888) 796-6333.