by: Melanie Donohoe, Licensed & Certified Clinical Social Worker (LCCSW)
Since the dawn of time, every culture has enjoyed laughter. Sadly, too many seniors are alone and isolated and do not get the opportunity for humor and laughter.
Respect can interfere with younger people sharing a joke with the elderly. They worry that it may seem rude or offensive and may not be their style of humor. No matter what age, everyone desires an urge for laughter, it may be even more so for seniors.
Many studies have been done on seniors and humor. The research shows that there are many healthy benefits for physical, emotional, and cognitive health. Below is a list of a few of the benefits:
- ALLEVIATES DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
- CONNECTION WITH OTHERS
- Loss, disability, illness can cause isolation and loneliness
- Laughter leads to social interaction
- STRESS REDUCTION
- Reduces the levels of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones)
- Even watching a funny movie or tv program (when alone) will lower stress
- One study indicates just the anticipation of humor lowers stress
- Lowering of stress, anxiety and depression, is very beneficial in maintaining cognitive health
- CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
- Reduces both blood pressure & heart beat while increasing blood flow
- MUSCLE STRENGTH
- Engages muscles and nerves, similar to a body core exercise workout.
- STRONGER IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Helps in fighting common medical issues (colds, flu) as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc.
With all these benefits, laughter results in better health and quality of life.
So all seniors should have a big “belly laugh” a couple of times a day, as part of their lifestyle!