The delight of an older person’s laugh can be infectious…it typically comes from the heart. The power of laughter can brighten a senior’s day and may even extend their lives. It is said that preschool children laugh around 400 times per day, but the average adult laughs 17 times per day or even less.
Laughter can lower blood pressure. It also increases the flow of blood flow and intake of oxygen…all benefits that can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Laughter can make you feel good and reduce the likelihood of depression. Chemical endorphins are released that help relax the body and instill positive feelings all over. Pain, stress and other discomforts are often minimized for long periods.
Laughter strengthens several muscles. Abdominal, back, and 15 facial muscles go to work when we laugh.
Laughter can increase the likelihood of making friends and socializing. Everyone likes a positive person, and sharing humorous stories or jokes is contagious.
In a Norwegian 7-year study, participants who had a sense of humor had a 20% lower mortality rate than those who found it hard to laugh at everyday situations. Another study found that live comedy made dementia/Alzheimer’s patients feel more positive and less aggressive.
How can seniors “Put on a Happy Face” more often? By encouraging them to engage in some of these behaviors:
- Go to a comedy club, live theater or funny (and clean) movie. Not only is it a positive thing to get out of the house, but a stand-up comic who engages the audience gets them energized. A list of local comedy clubs follows.
- Watch cartoons with grandchildren. Most cartoons have good, clean humor. Some are just silly, but they are still fun to watch.
- Watch a comedy movie classic. The Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello and so many other movies can lift spirits.
- Find the humor in everyday situations, including serious situations. It may be hard at first, but the alternative is living each day stressfully which can take an unhealthy toll. Overcoming adversity can be very positive. And one more thing: caregivers also need to take time to laugh.
- Tell jokes or read jokes. There are books full of jokes, and many Joke-a-Day websites. Reader’s Digest always has a variety of humorous stories.
- Heard the one about Laughter Yoga? Laughter Yoga is gaining popularity with seniors and others by leaps and bounds. Offered by a number of local yoga instructors, social laughter classes blend laughter exercises with yogic deep breathing. Laughing in a group helps reduce insecurity while increasing self-confidence and bonding with others. There is also some gentle physical activity, great for loosening limbs and boosting the body’s natural immune system. Several local laughter yoga resources follow.
Yes, it is a laughing matter for seniors to laugh more often, given the benefits. Maybe comedian Michael Pritchard sums it up best: “We don’t stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.”
Home Care Assistance of Fort Worth takes laughter seriously. Our in-home caregivers will interact with your senior on a daily basis to ensure they have a happier life. It’s a difference you will appreciate.
Local comedy clubs:
Hyena’s Comedy Nightclub – Fort Worth http://www.hyenascomedynightclub.com/fort-worth
Four-Day Weekend http://fourdayweekend.com/
Improv Arlington http://www.improvarlington.com/
Laughter Yoga classes:
LOL Laughter Yoga Club www.lollaughteryoga.com
Laughing Yoga Fort Worth www.laughteryogafortworth.com