You can’t always be there. But we can.
It may be a cliché saying that laughter is the best medicine, but it actually has some substance, especially when it comes to elderly adults. Several studies show a positive link between humor and health, especially when it comes to reducing the risk for certain conditions and illnesses. Humor can also help with mental illness by helping elderly adults view life’s ups and downs with a different perspective.
Family caregivers can help their elders bring more humor into their daily life so they can reap the benefits.
Humor Affects the Body
While it may be hard to believe, laughter and humor can have a positive affect on a person’s health. A lot of it has to do with how the person manages their stress. When stressed, the brain triggers hormones to flood the body, causing wear and tear among other things. Enjoying something humorous keeps those stress levels in check.
Chronic stress is linked to a greater risk of heart disease, chronic illnesses, high blood pressure and depression. Studies show that people who laugh regularly and enjoy an above average amount of humor in their lives do better with resisting illness, pain management, mental health and restful sleep, among other things. Other benefits include relaxing the muscles, burning calories, reduces blood pressure, relieves anxiety and even helps with digestive issues.
Bringing More Humor to Elderly Loved Ones
Family caregivers can play a big role in bringing more humor into the lives of their aging relatives. Of course, enjoying a few jokes everyday is not going to resolve all the health challenges that aging adults face. However, the positive effects of laughter can be an important part of an elder’s quality of life.
There are many things that family members, elder care assistants, friends and neighbors can do to expose an elderly person to the lighter side of life. Family caregivers and elder care aides can make sure the elderly person has a chance to watch funny TV comedies or record the late night talk shows to view the next day. Family caregivers and elder care aides can also drive seniors to local theatre performances of funny plays or to an afternoon at the movies.
Being with children is guaranteed to make elders laugh, so family caregivers should bring grandchildren and great-grandchildren around when possible. Many elders also volunteer at schools are reading aides or classroom helpers. Other sources of humor and laughter include senior center game days, funny online videos, spending time with friends, enjoying holidays and celebrations and even reading joke books.
If stress and isolation can have such a negative impact on an elderly person’s health, it makes sense that humor and laughter will do the opposite. Humor can definitely improve an elderly person’s health and wellness. That’s why it’s so important for family caregivers and elder care aides to ensure that even a little humor and laughter become part of the aging adult’s everyday life.