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Monday, 15 January 2024 04:56

Take Two Joylenol and Call Me in the Morning

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I recently gave a presentation to professional caregivers with my CaringKind colleagues Stephani Shivers and Olivia Cohen. Stephani shared a study about the lasting power of emotions, specifically laughter/happiness and sadness. After watching the “fake pleasure” scene from When Harry Met Sally, some people in the study had sustained happiness for 2, 4 or 8 hours or longer. After watching the sad part of Forest Gump, the sadness was sustained similarly. Olivia then described vicarious trauma (something caregivers are always at risk for) and that we can also get vicarious joy.

So, here’s the lesson I wanted to share with you. Plan and administer doses of joy just like medications. Know your loved one’s or client’s prescriptions.

The Joylenol. What is your loved one’s source of joy? Maybe it is watching a favorite TV show, or talking about their grandchildren, dancing, petting a cat or enjoying a hearty bowl of soup. Knowing what brings them true and reliable joy is essential to this prescription. 

The Dosage. How much joy do they need to have sustained positive emotions? Maybe it’s 10 minutes or maybe it’s longer. Having the right dose of Joylenol is just as important as the right dosage of any prescription.

The Timing. When to give a prescription is a key part of proper treatment. For example, if I were to take a pain reliever for my knee pain, I wouldn’t want to wait until I can’t walk on my knees. Then it’s going to take more pain reliever, or the milder prescription may not even work. Same thing for Joylenol. If a person loves music, enjoy some BEFORE a shower so that the positive emotions remain through the otherwise unpleasant activity. If you want someone to sleep well, avoid the news before bed and instead watch a favorite sitcom on demand.

The Frequency. Some need joy on occasion. When living with dementia, people may need their Joylenol on a more regular or routine basis. I recommend at least once a day. But if your person has a lot of negative reactions or frustrations or complex medical needs, they may need their Joylenol more frequently. Know what works for them and then try to increase the frequency through the day to get the desired effect. And feel free to use as needed. 

Take Two. Customizing this intervention is the cornerstone of person-centered care. My Joylenol would include music/singing, funny animal videos, sweet sounds of babies laughing, doing something creative like crochet or Zentangles® and buttered popcorn or some yummy take-out. I am not going to enjoy popcorn before my morning shower, but the animal or baby videos might just put me in a positive mood, then add music/singing to my shower time and I’m set up for a great day.

Vicarious Joy. As Olivia pointed out, caregivers can feel joy just by knowing they made the person living with dementia happy. I’ll add to this prescription that Joylenol is most effective when shared. And if you as a caregiver are feeling stressed, I am hereby writing a prescription of Joylenol for you!

If you are struggling to find Joylenol in your life, please reach out to Atwood Dementia Group at 860.798.0369 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Our coaches can walk you through strategies to improve your caregiving experiences.

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