There’s an old saying that “laughter is the best medicine”, but will laughing more also benefit those with serious medical conditions like cancer, dementia and heart disease? Many studies have shown that humor and laughter are beneficial for people with chronic illnesses- notably those aged 65-and-over.
If you’re a caregiver for an aging in place senior, humor and laughter could be “just what the doctor ordered” when it comes to improving their overall quality-of-life and sense of wellbeing.
How Does Laughter Help Seniors?
Most aging in place seniors face daily challenges that leave them feeling anxious, overwhelmed and even depressed. Because they’re still living independently, a lot of those concerns are related to chronic health problems. Many see their friends forced to move into nursing homes, and don’t want that to happen to them.
And although it’s never definitively been proven that humor and laughter will cure disease or prolong life, research has shown that laughing more stimulates several positive physiological changes in an older person’s body, including:
Scientists have determined that the “stress hormone” cortisol is found in lower amounts in the bodies of seniors who feel happier and laugh more often. As a result, they’re less likely to feel negative emotions like worry, anxiety or depression.
Increases Blood Flow
Laughter slightly decreases blood pressure, which is a positive for most older adults. And, it also promotes better blood circulation throughout the body, which is good for a senior’s overall health.
Aging weakens the immune system, which places seniors at higher risk for illnesses like the flu. But laughter boosts a person’s immunity by increasing blood flow and oxygen intake, along with reducing cortisol levels.
Notably for an elderly person who’s less mobile, laughter is an effective form of exercise for the diaphragm, abdominal muscles and heart. This notably benefits seniors with asthma or bronchitis.
When the human brain is stressed out it can’t repair itself, which can worsen cognitive impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s. Laughter causes the brain to be less stressed, thus allowing healing to take place so that new memories can be stored and accessed.
Now that you’ve seen the many benefits of humor and laughter for seniors, it’s time to explore some fun ways to keep your loved one laughing!
Sources of Humor and Laughter
Here are some simple ways to fill your senior’s life with some healthy humor and laughter:
- Tell them some clean jokes, or refer them to online joke sources like the Reader’s Digest or the Laugh Factory.
- Watch a funny movie together.
- Share some fun memories through old photos.
- Dress up together in some old clothes, hats and jewelry from their attic.
- Take them to a local comedy club. Make sure it’s a clean comedian and early show.
- Bring your small children by for a visit. Nothing makes an elderly person chuckle quite like being around their grandchildren.
- Load up some funny old TV programs from Bob Hope, Hee Haw, I Love Lucy or The Red Skelton Show.
- Get them together with some old friends to share a few laughs. For homebound seniors, there’s always Facebook Live or Skype.
- Dance with your loved one at home, or take them dancing.
- Play a game with your senior. Games like Operation, Uno or Go Fish are seem to promote laughter.
- Get them a pet. Who hasn’t been gleefully entertained by a puppy tugging on an old sock or kitten batting around a ball of yarn?
- Enroll them in a “laughter Yoga” (Hasyayoga) class. This form of exercise is great for seniors who are immobile and even wheelchair bound.
In-Home Caregivers Who Love Making Seniors Laugh
Getting an aging in place senior to laugh more benefits their health and wellbeing, but doing so when you’re busy or live far away can be difficult. When you need a hand, contact Cranberry Home Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained and carefully screened caregivers love making seniors laugh so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
While in the home, our experienced aides can also perform duties like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, meals, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our family trusted, in-home services can be individually tailored in an affordable package that’ll put your mind at ease. To learn more about Cranberry Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home care consultation for a senior in the Southeastern, MA, area today, please visit: www.cranberryhomecare.com now!