Clowns’ capers ease elderly agitation

Forget antipsychotics: the best way to reduce agitation in nursing homes might be to send in the clowns, Australian research finds.

An unusual clinical trial saw a crack comedy team sent into 17 Sydney nursing homes to serenade elderly residents, make them laugh and even get them dancing.

The clowns' visits were so effective at reducing agitation that researchers said they were on a par with risperidone, Australia's most commonly used antipsychotic for behavioural disturbance in dementia, without the side effects.