Laughter feels good. It is something we all enjoy and could use more of in trying times. While laughter does not provide the cure for cancer, heart disease, dementia or diabetes, it is widely accepted as a positive contributor to health and happiness.
In regard to senior health, laughter offers many benefits, some mental and some physical. Let’s take a look at the good you are doing when you crack a joke, tell a story or otherwise make someone giggle and smile.
A Mini Workout
When we laugh, our blood pressure elevates slightly and the muscles in our body and face stretch. We breathe a little faster, sending oxygen to tissues. In some ways, this is like a mini workout. We all know that exercise is good for our cardiovascular, circulatory and respiratory system. While a senior will not get a significant calorie burn even from a deep belly laugh, they can enjoy some of the benefits staying active offers without ever having to move their feet.
Laughter and Pain Tolerance
Another benefit of laughter is that it boosts our tolerance to pain. This happens when endorphin levels in the body are increased. Giving seniors with arthritis, fibromyalgia or osteoporosis a reason to smile just might make it a little easier for them to get through the day. They might also enjoy life a little more and stay pain-free with less prescription medications.
A daily dose of laughter might also help seniors to fight back against stress, anxiety and depression. Late life depression impacts more than 6-million individuals 65 or older. This statistic makes it important to focus efforts on finding ways to prevent it. Laughter increases dopamine levels in the bloodstream. This powerful chemical regulates sleep, behavior, mood and cognition. It also plays a part in helping us sense pleasure and approval. The right levels of this important chemical offer many benefits. Laughter is one way to achieve such levels.
Researching the Benefits of Laughter
Little research has been done in relation to the benefits of laughter and senior health, but some studies have shown promise. A study by Dr. Lee Berk of Loma Linda University in California examined before and after blood samples from individuals after viewing a light-hearted, funny video. Blood samples were also examined from a control group who did not watch the video. A significant increase in immune functioning was noted in the group who watched the video compared to individuals who did not. While further studies are warranted, this evidence lends credence to the idea that people who laugh regularly are healthier and better able to fight off diseases and infections when presented with them.
Helping Seniors to Laugh a Little More
Adding a little more laughter to a senior’s day is not difficult. It also has no potential for negative side effects. Spend time with your aging loved one, share and reminisce in person or on the telephone, tell a joke or enjoy a movie or play together. If you are a long distance caregiver, ask a trusted neighbor to visit or enlist the help of a caring homecare professional like Salus Homecare San Fernando Valley to provide companionship and socialization opportunities when family cannot be there.
Everyone enjoys a good laugh. There is no doubting the many health benefits of this simple act. This is as true for the seniors in your life as it is for everyone else. Enjoy a funny book or giggle through a good conversation, and encourage aging loved ones to do the same. Just a few minutes a day will make a world of difference.
If you are searching for a caring, reliable home care professional who gives your senior loved one reasons to laugh and enjoy life a little more, Salus Homecare San Fernando Valley is ready to help. Call us anytime.
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