As we have seen in the previous posts, laughter has many health benefits. While this is also true for people with dementia, there are some considerations to keep in mind. First, the loss of cognitive functioning in dementia patients can lead them to lose their ability to laugh and smile. This, in turn, can affect their ability to use humor for social communication. Second, people with dementia can feel offended by humor and have a heightened sensitivity to joking. You need to be sensitive when using humor.
However, some types of laughter are preserved and laughing does benefit those living with dementia.
6 Benefits of Laughing for Dementia Patients
- Releases endorphins (redirect negative emotions)
- Clears brain fog
- Kills pain
- Decreases depression
- Combats memory loss
- Increases social interaction
With these benefits in mind let’s look at an activity to foster some of these benefits.
Music Activity: Musical Mad Libs
If you have ever played Mad Libs you know that is a game that easily results in lots of laughter. Mad Libs is a word game in which one player prompts other players for a list of words to substitute for blanks in a storyline. Here is an example:
Now, let’s put a musical twist on this game and create a funny song.
Download the template below
Using the template, ask participants to say a noun, another noun, an emotion, a plural noun, an adjective, a verb, a feeling, a verb and a noun.
Do not read each line of the song until the end.
Once all the words have been filled in, sing your song to the original tune.
In addition to generating lots of laughter (which in turn releases those lovely endorphins), this activity also increases social interaction, memory recall and decreases brain fog. Try this with your favorite songs or make up your own stories. But most of all…Have fun!