Did you know that when people laugh 43 facial muscles are used, more blood and oxygen flow to the brain and body, and mood boosting hormones are released? When we giggle the brain releases additional endorphins that cause a feeling of well-being and lower the likelihood of depression. Levels of cortisol and epinephrine are also reduced to relieve stress and anxiety. This is why studies have been suggesting for years that laughter really is the best natural medicine for improving senior health.
This jovial response to humor stimulates and strengthens the immune system, enhances lung function and increases resistance to sickness by producing more antibodies and immune cells. The person laughing feels relaxed, energized, alert and free from anger or sadness.
American journalist Norman Cousins wrote about laughter in his autobiography entitled Anatomy of an Illness. He stated that watching episodes of old television comedies allowed him to sleep better at night even though he had painful arthritis of the spine.
Psychologist Robin Dunbar and his team at Oxford University published a research paper called “Proceedings of the Royal Society” which dissected a ten-year study on laughter and humor. They concluded that one’s health is positively affected by these two factors. One study showed that watching 15 minutes of something funny increased pain resistance by a whopping 10 percent!
The 1998 movie Patch Adams with Robin Williams was based on a real-life doctor who believed that humor and playtime led to psychological and physical health and an improved quality of life. The senior care experts at Home Care Assistance in Grand Rapids, Michigan certainly agree.
Seniors and their in-home caregivers, family and friends can enjoy humor and laughter on a daily basis in a variety of ways. Here are some of our favorite suggestions:
- Read a funny book or newspaper comics
- Watch a comedy movie or humorous television show
- Watch cute or funny videos on the internet
- Play with pets or grandchildren
- Keep humorous mementos nearby
- Use a calendar-a-day with entertaining sayings or cartoons
- Create a list of funny jokes to share with others
It is clear that keeping laughter alive well into your Golden Years improves quality of life and health, especially when senior adults get to share that happy moment with a compassionate caregiver or family member. Laughter and humor creates a positive outlook on life and helps seniors cope with difficulty. Don’t forget to spread some humor to the aging loved ones in your life today.
If you or an aging family member could use the support and companionship of an hourly or 24/7 live-in senior caregiver from Grand Rapids Home Care Assistance, call 616-243-0835 today to set up a free consultation.