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Blog Feature

By: Marissa Salvesen on April 10th, 2015

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Humor and Your Aging Loved One

assisted living | caregiver tips | 60-day stay trial | Aging & Caregiving

0061EFP120614-101656_UMH_com_CO-02Charles Dickens wrote, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” 

April is “National Humor Month" and offers an opportunity to take a closer look at how laughter can help seniors lead fuller, happier and longer lives.

“The Best Medicine”

We’ve all heard the expression that, “Laughter is the best medicine.” But you may not know that this sentiment has scientific roots. Laughter isn’t just good for your soul; it’s also good for the body thanks to a breadth and depth of positive, laughter-induced physiological effects, including relieving muscle tension to minimizing stress.

When you laugh, your body releases endorphins, which enhance happiness and reduce physical pain. Blood pressure levels drop and circulation improves; the immune system even gets a beneficial boost.

Recent research suggests that humor actually enhances cognitive function. Nursing home patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were happier and less aggressive after spending time with clowns and comedians.

Aside from physical effects, laughter also has a positive impact on mental health and emotional wellness. While stress can be particularly damaging to a senior’s health, humor can be a critical mitigating factor.

Not only that, but in many cases, older adults with positive outlooks have demonstrated greater resiliency and better clinical outcomes, revealing that nothing supports a positive attitude quite like the ability to laugh.

Making Humor Happen

Everyone has a sense of humor, but many seniors are distracted by chronic health concerns, anxiety and stress, financial woes, and other age-related hardships. Luckily, you don’t have to hire a comedy troupe to help your aging loved one reap the benefits of laughter.

Instead, you can help your loved one find the humor in life by scheduling it in. Whether you watch a funny movie together or stock up on the funny papers, you can help make laughter a habit. And we all know that laughter is contagious; the more you laugh, the more you laugh.

You can also increase the laughter in the life of your aging loved one by encouraging him/her to spend time in good company. For example, a visit from a precocious grandchild is sure to elicit belly laughs. Additionally, socializing with new and old friends offers plenty of opportunities for laughter.

Many assisted living communities also host a variety of activities and events for sharing good humor, including weekly entertainers, parties and socials, intergenerational programs, theme days, community dinners, and more! 

Humor is a valuable coping method, stress reducer and health aid, but some research even indicates that laughter can actually lead to enhanced longevity. So why wait another minute to start embracing the humor in life? “Knock, knock….”

Key Takeaways

  • Humor and laughter have a multitude of benefits – physical, mental and emotional.
  • While the effects of aging may not be a laughing matter, you can help your aging loved one find opportunities to laugh everyday.
  • Assisted living communities offer plenty of regular opportunities for humor and laughter through socializing and other relationship-building activities.
  • Not only is laughter good for the body and soul, it can also help you live longer.
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About Marissa Salvesen

My journey into the world of senior living began when I started working for United Methodist Homes in 2010. Starting as an Activities Director at one of our-winning assisted and independent living communities and then transitioning to Marketing and Promotions Manager for UMH, I now work as the Manager of Mission Development, fostering the Mission and Values of our organization. I love sharing stories about the many ways we build meaningful relationships and enrich the lives of those we serve, and am proud to be part of building UMH’s 140-year legacy of caring. Wondering what makes our communities such special places to live and work? Connect with me and find out!

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Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.