Just 10 minutes of fun and laughter a week is enough to dramatically improve the quality of life of a person living with dementia, according to Newcastle filmmaker and Arts Health Institute CEO Maggie Haertsch.
Her three-year Smile Study involved 400 aged care residents in 36 homes, who were visited weekly by Clown Doctor Jean Paul Bell and other comedians for 10 minutes of fun.
Suddenly people who couldn’t speak started speaking, and others began expressing themselves in ways their carers had not seen before. Whole units of people were able to come off their antipsychotic medication as there was a dramatic decline in levels of agitation.
Their discovery is captured in the film The Smile Within.
Take a look at this wonderful talk Maggie gave at an event we organised last year called Growing Older.
In it she shares these stories, along with her vision for a dementia friendly, aged care friendly Newcastle, part of a World Health Organisation global network of ageing friendly cities.
Her message is a good reminder, in national Dementia Awareness Month, of what we can do to create communities where people with dementia are supported to live a high quality life, with meaning, purpose and value. And fun and laughter, the “essentials of life”.