Is laughter the best medicine?

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posted by Ted Ryan on April 15, 2015

Perhaps not, but there’s more to the old saying than you might think – especially for seniors and their caregivers. Life can seem humorless for aging seniors and their able-bodied yet overwhelmed caregivers, however, a good laugh might be just what the doctor ordered.

Since April is National Humor Month, it seems fitting to look at some of the science behind laughter as a medicine.

Researchers have found that laughter provides numerous benefits to the body, including:

  • Blood flow. Laughter causes the tissue in blood vessels to expand, increasing blood flow.
  • Immune response. Increased stress can lead to decreased immune system response. Some studies have shown that humor may raise the level of infection-fighting antibodies and boost the levels of immune cells.
  • Lower blood pressure. Seniors have an increased risk of high blood pressure. Laughter helps balance or lower blood pressure by increasing vascular blood flow. Laughter revives blood circulation and increases oxygenation of the blood, becoming a powerful tool in fighting heart illnesses.
  • Pain management. Many studies have shown that people in pain or discomfort report that when they laugh their pain doesn’t bother them as much.
  • Cope with stress and life’s issues. Seniors face a lot of changes they have no control over. Laughter can help seniors control their reactions to situations that they cannot control.

Try to find a laughter source for your senior loved one. Watch a favorite movie, share a fond memory or funny story from your week – perhaps your child did something funny, or even something your loved one will recall you doing at that age!

The key is to take a bit of time from your busy, stressful schedule to create an environment of fun and laughter.

In addition to the health benefits, laughter helps build bonds and make one feel like they belong. You and your loved one will feel closer and they are less likely to feel lonely, even if you can’t spend as much time together as you’d like.

 If you need help, please contact us. A caregiver can assist with personal care and daily chores so you have more time to enjoy your time with one another.

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