A laugh a day keeps the doctor away. While this may not always be true, the positive effects of laughter are well known. For seniors who often battle with depression, laughter can have a healing touch.
Why Seniors Need Laughter
Coupled with failing health, seniors often feel isolated from their family and friends. Their children and grandchildren are busy with their own lives and may not visit or call as often as the senior would like. Add to this the fact that many seniors cannot be as active as they once were and get out to activities or visit friends, and this isolation can bring about loneliness and depression.
These emotions often cause a further decline in health as they lose their appetite and further reduce any physical activity and you end up with a vicious cycle for the senior. Laughter can help relieve stress and give them a positive emotion to make them feel good.
What is Laughter Therapy?
Also called Laughter Yoga, it is a form of therapy for seniors to participate in at various locations with a certified instructor. It may sound odd to someone who has never tried it, but the science behind it is convincing.
While it can’t be explained, laughter has been proven to reduce blood pressure, lower stress, improve breathing, and release endorphins in the body that are similar to the effects of physical exercise. Advocates of this program say that even when you don’t feel like it, forced laughter has the same result.
This therapy was developed in 1995 by a doctor who saw the benefits of laughter. He said that while children laugh 300 times a day, most adults only laugh about 15.
The classes may vary from the leader being the only one to do silly activities while the participants laugh to everyone performing silly antics to get laughter. While the laughter is forced in the beginning, by the end of the class it is usually sincere for everyone in the room.
One of the benefits specific to laughter therapy is the interaction between participants. Seniors often feel alone, but this activity brings them closer to other people if only for the duration of the class. You don’t have to know the person to feel a bond with them in laughter therapy. Laughter is a universal language and makes one feel like they belong.
How Family Caregivers Can Help Their Loved Ones Laugh More
While laughter therapy is becoming more popular, you can’t find it everywhere. So how can you help your senior enjoy the benefits that laughter brings? The therapy in class works even with forced laughter but it often turns into real laughter because of the number of participants. Laughter is contagious and when one person starts laughing sincerely, it carries through the class.
To achieve similar results at home, you need to find a source of laughter with your senior loved one. You can go to a comedy routine with them or see a funny movie. Look up funny jokes or stories on the internet and read them until you both are laughing. The key here is to take out time from a busy, stressful schedule and create an environment for laughter and fun.
Plan an afternoon or evening on a regular basis to spend time with your senior family member that is not about running to the doctor or shopping for them. Find something funny to share with them; it can be a movie or a funny story from a friend or something your child did. If you can’t come up with any ideas on your own, pick up a joke book from a bookstore or watch videos on the internet.
Make sure you have enough material for at least a half hour since it may take some time for both of you to get in the right mood. But if you make this a habit with your loved one, you will find that it becomes easier for the two of you to laugh together. You will also discover that you laugh spontaneously more often when you are out, and things will seem funnier in your everyday lives.
The result from this exercise is that your loved one will feel closer to you and less lonely even if you can’t spend as much time together as you’d like.
To have more fun time with your loved one so you can laugh together, you may need to consider using Carefect Homecare Services. Our caregivers can provide assistance with personal care and housekeeping chores, shopping and running errands, and doing laundry so you have more time to enjoy quality time with your loved one.