The Importance of Play

During my daily reading of the news, I came across an article of interest.  It focuses on the importance of play and laughter for those individuals who have dementia.

Play-Up is a program started by humor therapist Jean-Paul Bell which encourages dementia patients to play  more.  Bell participated in a study of how humor therapy impacts "mood, agitation, behavior disturbances and social engagement in dementia patients."  The study showed a 20% reduction in their agitation, a reduction equivalent to putting them on antipsychotic medications, and led to the founding of Australia's Arts Health Institute.

Mr. Bell and his partner Dr. Peter Spitzer, both founders of the Humor Foundation, modified their humor therapy approach for sick children to fit the needs of the aging patients with dementia to positive effect.

Here in the US, the Big Apple Circus provides Clown Care where their professional clowns make therapeutic visits to partner hospitals each week.  Another thing that the Big Apple Circus does as part of their community outreach just came to my attention this week.  They frequently partner with organizations which serve disadvantaged children in the communities where they perform to offer up tickets.  The gift of these tickets allow the children and their families to attend the circus for free.  This came to my attention because the county where I live and am a licensed foster parent has apparently partnered with Big Apple for the children in foster care.  (Thank you Big Apple.  We had a wonderful time!)

Additional Information Sources:
Dementia Net article on Play-Up


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