As the population ages, the number of Australians suffering from dementia is forecast to triple to about 900,000 by 2050.

One group is trialling an alternative therapy method that uses laughter to lessen the effects of the condition.

The Arts Health Institute has just started visiting dementia patients in Adelaide after setting up programs in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

The Institute was established to use the arts - including theatre, music, comedy and poetry - as a means of complementing other forms of care.

The program follows a three-year study that found weekly visits from theatrical performers helps reduce agitation and the sense of isolation in dementia patients.

Institute performer Andy McDonnell hopes the quality of life for sufferers can be improved.

"I'm really hoping that that's the case, that when we come in here we will, over a period of time I guess, see some really pleasant and nice changes for the residents here, for the elders," he said.

"Also for the staff to recognise and for the families as well to recognise that their loved ones and the people that they work with are still alive and cooking and having a real ball."

Performer Michael Newbold says the program works to counteract the apathy some patients feel because of their condition.

"To have somebody that can spend a period of time with them, and use their history, music, poetry, whatever it was that might hook into them to stimulate them, to arouse them, to engage and to play basically. It doesn't have to end in fun and humour, but it normally does."

The Arts Health Institute hopes to further expand the program across Australia.

 

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