Purpose: This study was to identify the effects of laughing and music therapy on depression and the activities of the autonomic nervous system in the elderly with dementia. Methods: The participants were 61 seniors over 65 years old with dementia, admitted to nursing homes. Twenty of them received laughing therapy, 21 received music therapy and 18 were in the control group. A total of 59 patients’ data were analyzed. Depression was measured by Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia tool, and the activities of the autonomic nervous system by the heart rate variability measuring device. The data were analyzed by frequency and percentage, Chi-square test, t-test, ANOVA, and Tukey test. Results: The depression of the music therapy group was more significantly decreased than the laughing therapy group and the control group. The activities of the autonomic nervous system of the laughing therapy group were more significantly increased than the music therapy group. The magnitude of the activities of the autonomic nervous system of the laughing therapy group were more significantly increased than the music therapy group. Conclusion: This study showed that music therapy was more effective than laughing therapy for the decrease of depression. Laughing and music therapy were more effective than in the control group for increasing the activities of the para-sympathetic nervous system and decreasing the activities of the sympathetic nerve system.
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