London: Laughter is good for health, it`s known. But, a new study now says that it could be the best medicine for elderly dementia patients.
Researchers at the University of New South Wales have found that nursing home residents who received regular visits from a humour therapist saw a 20 per cent drop in agitation levels compared to those receiving standard care.
They said laughter could provide a viable alternative to anti-psychotic drugs, the `Daily Mail` reported.
The study took place over three years involving 36 nursing home and 400 residents. The researchers used a combination of games, joke and songs to encourage half of the elderly to laugh.
Dressed in a bright blue jacket with brass buttons and shoulder tabs, he would accompany his songs by playing the ukelele. A member of staff was also trained to be a "laughter
boss" to ensure carers incorporated humour into their daily routines to maintain the cheery atmosphere.
The other 200 residents did not receive any extra doses of humour.
The study found that in addition to seeming more content, the dementia patients involved seemed less agitated by 20 percent.
Lead researcher Lee-Fay Low said: "Twenty per cent sounds like a small effect but it`s about the same amount, the same effect as you would get if you gave them an antipsychotic medication -- medication you would use to treat schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder."