Laugh Track

Remember the sitcoms from the Golden Age of Television when the sounds of canned laughter would prompt the viewers at home to laugh in the appropriate places.  If you are caring for a dementia sufferer (DS), then you need to set up laugh tracks from time to time.  Communication with a DS can be frustrating.  You frequently have to resort to playing charades or word-association games to understand what word your DS is trying to say.  Then, once you have agreed upon the missing word, be it keys or candy or shoes, you often have to repeat whatever word game you were playing because by the time you have come up with the correct word, your DS has forgotten what he wanted in the first place.

During these rounds of fun and games which are not fun and games at all, introduce a reason for laughter.  Substitute a different and completely off-the-wall word for whatever it is that you and he are trying to figure out.  If you do it right, you can defuse the tension and create a light moment between the two of you.  First, make sure your DS knows you are joking.  Look him in the eye, smile, and ask with a giggling tone, “Do you mean ‘hot dog’?”, even though you are pretty sure he is looking for an article of clothing.  Ask “Are you looking for a caterpillar?” when he is hunting for whatever he has lost next.

Of course, there are times that this strategy may not work at all.  Back off quickly if your joke goes flat and get serious about finding the word or item that has been misplaced.  But be ready to create another reason to laugh whenever you can. 

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