Comedy and dementia

Discussion in 'Books, film and music' started by Sia, Nov 15, 2019.

  1. Sia

    Sia Registered User

    Nov 15, 2019
    10
    Hi all,

    My friend's mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia recently. We are considering how to improve her quality of life.

    1) Have you watch comedies or standup with dementia patients?
    2) Do they react? What has been your experience?
    3) What type of comedy or standup did dementia patients prefer?
    4) Do you ever take them out to live comedy events as opposed to TV?

    Best wishes,

    Siavush
     
  2. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    946
    Male
    North West
    #2 Palerider, Nov 15, 2019
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
    Mum still loves Dave Allen not exactly stand up but live TV comedian back in the day.

    I forgot to say 'good night and may your god go with you'

    I also forgot I took mum to see Ken Dodd live a year before he died, he was so funny and mum just didn't stop laughing...we left very late
     
  3. Louise7

    Louise7 Registered User

    Mar 25, 2016
    1,336
    Every person with dementia is different so what makes them laugh will be individual but if your friend's Mum enjoyed comedies/stand up prior to her diagnosis then I'd suggest that you stick with the programmes & comedians that she has always enjoyed as familiarity will help trigger memories. My Mum is always smiling and tends to laugh at all sorts of things on the TV rather than a specific programme or comedian. Sometimes even an advert can make her laugh.

    I've been to quite a lot of stand up comedy venues over the years but haven't found too many to be dementia friendly - crowds, noise, long queues for the loos and often not well lit - but it depends on what stage your friend's Mum is at. If she enjoys going to live comedy shows and the environment wouldn't have a negative effect on her then give it a try. With regards to improving the quality of life for someone with dementia, as symptoms progress practical help and support really helps. Bear in mind that depression/anxiety is common in those with dementia so sometimes no amount of comedy or stand up routines will help, other methods are needed.
     
  4. Palerider

    Palerider Registered User

    Aug 9, 2015
    946
    Male
    North West
    Just to say when I took mum to see Ken Dodd she wasn't as she is now, I wouldn't be able to take her to somethig like that now as she woudn't be able to cope or even follow the performance. I took the opportunity while it was there, plus mum was a fan of Ken Dodd of old so it worked quite well.

    In the end comedy on the TV helped but it had to be a program she had a strong connection with from the past, Dads Army etc. Thats where Dave Allen came in at times as she remembered his funny sketches -its amazing how pwd can surprise you but as @Louise7 says each person with dementia is different.
     
  5. Andrew_McP

    Andrew_McP Registered User

    Mar 2, 2016
    219
    Male
    South Northwest
    I think comedy's particularly challenging as dementia sets in. A lot of it -- especially modern stand-up -- is quite 'clever', which is a clumsy way of putting it... more anecdotal, requiring you to follow a train of thought leading up to some kind of payoff.

    However what I noticed in my Mum, back when she paid any attention to the TV, was that she responded to the apparent 'fun level' of anything funny I was watching. So the more laughter, the more the TV audience was enjoying what was going on, the more 'upbeat' and smiley the performer was, the better the chance she'd stay engaged for more than a few seconds and laugh herself. I'm sure she had no idea what was funny though, and I certainly wouldn't have dreamed of taking to anything live, because her attention span wasn't great.

    I'm grateful for Mum for introducing me to Mrs Brown's Boys though. I was your typical "I'm far too sensible to watch that kind of trash" elitist before I started clutching at straws to entertain Mum. But I left it on one day and she loved it. The good old fashioned bawdiness, the upbeat tone of it all, and the swearing... she was tickled pink! For a while anyway.

    I found that while watching that 'for Mum's sake' I discovered it's comedy with an awful lot of heart; it's not Frasier, but it's now something I respect. Entertainment is hard, and that team are entertaining... if you can suspend your preconceptions for long enough to relax. :)

    I still enjoy a bit of Dad's Army on a Saturday evening, but that kind of think definitely has no appeal to Mum... not enough laughter, too many serious faces. Anything with kids laughing in it will still get her attention, but not for long.

    Mum used to appreciate a bit of upbeat Doddy... but not for the jokes, just for his appearance and manner, the tickle stick, and the joy of the audience. She loved Dave Allen back in the day, and I still appreciate him now. But that slow, relaxed, understated delivery of his meant nothing to her when I tried watching him a couple of Christmases ago, back when she was a lot more aware.

    I suspect I ought to be watching a lot more CeeBeebies or something now to try and identify some simple, funny, child-oriented performers. Not because I'm saying folk with dementia are children... they're all different, but as adults we require a lot of 'seasoning' with our jaded humour palates. Children are still focused on the pure, simple joys of life. If I have any hope of getting Mum to smile again regularly that's probably where I should be seeking inspiration. I certainly won't be trying to get her to watch 'Live at the Apollo' or 'Mock the Week'.

    Mind you, even though I used to think of myself as a lefty Guardianista, these days even I struggle to be engaged by stuff like that. I think I may not be 'woke' enough for modern humour. Or maybe I just got old and will revert to Wheeltappers & Shunters mode. I just hope someone puts me out of my misery before I start hunting down Bernhard Manning clips on YouTube.

    Actually... that makes me wonder about firing up some Tiswas on the TV's YouTube app. I can relive my formative Sally James years and Mum might enjoy the slapstick and Spit the Dog.

    Or maybe I'm just looking for excuses to relive my own youth? I'm definitely typing as an excuse not to get Mum rugged up for a dog walk though. Better get on with that before it does dark. I swear someone stole about five hours of daylight when the clocks went back.
     
  6. Sia

    Sia Registered User

    Nov 15, 2019
    10

    Hi Palerider,

    Very interesting! Thanks for taking the time to reply. We thought about the logistics of going to a comedy club and thought about hiring a comedian instead and sending him to my friend's mum. We shall see ...

    Sia
     
  7. Sia

    Sia Registered User

    Nov 15, 2019
    10
    Thanks, Louise. I appreciate the detail. :) We are thinking about potential onset of depression. Hence, we were considering how to build a buffer. Traditional CBT is out of the question, as she has lost speech. We thought exercise and comedy could be part of a treatment.
     
  8. Sia

    Sia Registered User

    Nov 15, 2019
    10
    A well-written post. I enjoyed it. :) Useful insight. Who isn't trying to relive their youth? I keep watching re-runs of Friends and Seinfeld ...
     
  9. Dimpsy

    Dimpsy Registered User

    Sep 2, 2019
    563
    Female
    Hi @Sia
    Humour and the ability to have a good giggle are so important to positive well-being.
    My mum (with AZ, age 89) still enjoys a good laugh but we have noticed that it is visual comedy that really gets her funny-bone going, specifically "You've Been Framed".
    Modern comedy just goes over her head; programmes like "Would I Lie To You" which OH and I crease up to, is to fast for mum to follow. She still enjoys the old perennial favourites 'Two Ronnie's', 'M&W', 'Dads Army' etc.
    We take mum to our small local cinema occasionally, not for comedy, but for films and live action theatre and ballet.
     
  10. Sia

    Sia Registered User

    Nov 15, 2019
    10
    Hi Dimpsy,

    I am glad to hear your mum enjoys the cinema! :)

    Does she sit through an entire movie? Also, have you yourself tried to use more humour in your interactions with your mum?

    Sia
     
  11. Dimpsy

    Dimpsy Registered User

    Sep 2, 2019
    563
    Female
    (You've gathered mum lives with OH and me).
    The last film we saw was Dumbo with Danny Devito, Downton is up next and the Bolshoi's Nutcracker in December. I should add that we live in the sticks; the Town Hall is our cinema and they always have an intermission half way through for tea, cake and ice cream!

    Yes, mum's concentration lasts the entire time and she enjoys every moment, but then she enjoys going out full stop ( if you knew how she was living a few years ago, you would understand why).

    Whether it's pushing the trolley when we do the weekly shop, visiting her favourite store (the big blue and yellow furniture shop with veggie-balls and free pencils), or walking along the sea front.
    We would have to travel a long way to find live comedy acts. We go to the Memory cafe which is lively, Church can be fun and as a family, we spend time together, play silly games and make the most of what we have.

    My mum has the loveliest nature, looks on the bright side of life and is happy 99% of the time. You know how there are some people who you just connect with; something funny happens which sets you both off and you can't stop laughing, so hard it hurts, it's always been like that with mum and me (I have the same connection with one of my daughter's).
    Mum has been profoundly deaf since she was a child, she had her first hearing aids at the age of sixty, so has a different slant on the way the world works. We have an easygoing relationship and yes, humour plays a large part; she is easy to live with.

    I am aware (from this forum), that many PWD, develop anxiety and aggression, which can be difficult to manage. My mum's dementiia has not taken her along that path, although we can't predict the future, no-one with this blessed awful disease knows what is around the corner.

    Occasionally, mainly because of the fact that mum has still got a really good sense of humour and is empathetic to other people's feelings, I have wondered if mum's dementiia was mis-diagnosed, it is not uncommon for deaf people to be given the wrong diagnosis apparently, simply because they can't hear the questions.
    But then, she had a scan and her memory is dismal, so although the good feelings of having a laugh remain, mum instantly forgets what she has seen. "Dumbo? What's Dumbo".
     

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