With all the medications that many seniors are on, it turns out that laughter might be the best medicine. When we laugh, our spirits are lifted, our heart is happy and we just feel good. For seniors, laughing has an even greater impact – it provides a variety of age-related health benefits.
Reduces Stress, Anxiety & Depression
That good feeling, we get when we laugh, stays with us even after the immediate laughter subsides. It relaxes the entire body, releasing physical tension in our muscles for up to 45 minutes. Laughing also increases our levels of dopamine, which helps to naturally reduce stress, anxiety and depression.
Boosts the Immune System
Laughter increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, such as T-cells and salivary immunoglobulin A. This gives our aging and often compromised immune systems an added boost. Seniors get the combined benefit of improved resistance to disease, and the ability to fight infections faster.
Eases Pain & Inflammation
Laughter releases endorphins, which are natural feel-good substances that help us feel happy and has been proven to lessen the perception of physical pain for up to two hours. In addition, laughter reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which minimizes pain and inflammation throughout the body.
Improves Memory Function
When the brain experiences high levels of stress and cortisol, it has difficulty healing itself and making room for new memories. Because laughter reduces stress, it can actually help improve memory function.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Seniors face an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks, but laughter can help prevent both. By improving blood circulation and oxygenation, laughing can have a positive effect on seniors with high cholesterol or heart disease.
Provides a Workout
Ever noticed your sides ache after a good laugh? While it may not seem like exercise, laughter actually provides a workout for your whole body, but especially your abdominal muscles and diaphragm. For seniors who suffer with asthma, bronchitis or COPD, laughing can actually help improve their respiratory health.
How Can Seniors Laugh More?
As children, laughter is part of our daily lives, but as we age, we find fewer opportunities to laugh. While this can be attributed to the additional pressures of life, for seniors, it may also be related to isolation. Since laughter is contagious and often related to togetherness and community, seniors who live alone or are unable to get out and socialize may be laughter-deficient.
If you are caring for a loved one who may be missing that levity in their life, take time to tell them a funny story or share a joke. You can even watch a humor-filled TV show or movie with them. For those mobile seniors, consider taking them to a comedy show. However, if you notice your loved one is frequently feeling isolated and lonely, it might be a good time to talk about senior care.
We are glad to help you anytime and can be reached at (757) 640-0557.
By Tom Knox
President of Seniorcorp