There are things in your life you know are true. That laughter, if not the best medicine, is a close second and has less side effects! I love this article about the positive effects of clowning for the elderly and those with aphasia. It really drives home to importance of nonverbal communication during clowning, whether you are in a nursing home, hospital, or even at a parade. I am happy to share it with you.
Comment below and let me know if you have noticed similar results during your clowning. I would love to hear about your experiences!
Clowning Around is Good for Brain Health
The following article was published on the Medical Express website by Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Click here for the original source.
Trinity College and the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) are broadening the discussion on the importance of art for brain health which gives space for perspectives that may help change the narrative on how we view older adults and promote their active participation in life.
Dr. Lenisa Brandao is an Atlantic Fellow at GBHI and studies the application of the arts of ‘narrative and clowning‘ in interventions applied to promote the enhancement and recovery of cognitive-communicative skills of older adults, with and without neurological disorders.
Clowning involves the whole body and engages the emotions without speech. The use of humour improves the quality of life for patients with dementia, reduces tensions and settles agitated emotions, while improving patients’ social bonds.
Dr. Brandao, a speech and language therapist said: “Clowning gives you freedom to use more ways of expressing yourself; you get to express emotions through gestural movements of your body – which can be very helpful for people whose verbal skills are impaired, through dementia or a stroke.”
“Clowning provides a context of freedom to use all channels of communication.”
“Clowning can be a medium of expression and empowerment for anyone interested in learning about their selves, using multiple channels of communication and shifting their perspectives on failure. It can also be a medium for promoting the critical education of health professionals, as it provides a context for experiencing horizontal and empathetic relationships,” she continued.
Clowning has been extensively practiced in health settings through the visit of clown professionals in hospitals and geriatric centres. Dr. Brandao proposes that active clowning be practiced by diverse populations, such as older adults who survive stroke and those who live with dementia.”
As a Speech and Language Therapist, her latest work has concentrated in promoting the brain health of older adults who survive stroke and live with a condition called ‘aphasia’, a language impairment caused by brain damage. Due to language difficulties, aphasia provokes idiosyncratic experiences and loneliness. Language is no longer fully available. However, emotions are there and nonverbal abilities are usually preserved. Communicating functionally and experiencing well-being during communication is essential for this population.
“Communicating is more than using words and sentences. Discourse involves the whole body, especially gestures and facial expressions. People living with aphasia should be encouraged to use their strengths. And that is when therapeutic clowning comes into play; empowering individuals who are highly stigmatised in society. Empathy and nonverbal communication play a huge role in this process. Clowning provides a context of freedom to use all channels of communication while promoting self-acceptance,” she concluded.
[end of article]
Reading this reminds me in this fast paced world how important our simple connections are with one another. For example, I stopped into a friend’s office the other day to ask a quick question.
Something inside told me to slow down. After I got the answer I needed, I looked her in the eyes and said, “And I just wanted to see you and say Hi”. What a lovely spark of appreciation appeared in her face!
The visit made me remember how important those little things can be. It kept me mindful of the simple joy of the clown, even in our briefest encounters.
Hospital Clowning is a much needed act of kindness
Sometimes non-verbal communication can say so much more in a shorter time span than words. Like a simple wave. At the end of my Red Nose Reader program I remind the children: “When you see a clown this summer be sure to wave and say hi! They are certainly one of my friends. I know they will wave back!”
Be sure to smile and wave back at every kid that waves at you this summer. Laughter and kindness truly are the best medicine.
If you want to step up your clowning and add more depth to your character so these nonverbal encounters are easier to pull out, or if you want to learn more about hospital and caring clowning (also known as therapeutic clowning), check out Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp. Learn more by clicking here or calling 320-963-6277. Let my staff of wonderful clowns help you be the best clown you can be!