The Importance of Humor for Seniors

Note: This is a guest post by Sue Sveum of LivingSenior, an organization dedicated to matching caregivers with seniors in need of care.

Laughter is contagious. And since it feels good, go ahead and laugh away. Studies show that laughing is good for our health — but who needs a study when it’s plain to see that laughing is a like a booster shot? The more you laugh, the happier you are. And happy people laugh.

So it’s decided – laughter makes the world go round. Now this is true for any age, but for seniors there is the potential to add years to your life. Or if not quantity, laughter will certainly add quality to the life you have. Have you ever heard a child laugh? That musical sound is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face. And kids are known to laugh 400 times a day. But sadly, as an adult, we smile less than 20 times a day. No wonder we’re called “Grumpy Old Men” (and women, of course).

Here’s why we should work at changing that.

  • Laughter is good for your immune system. Really. Research says so. And since it’s not expensive or risky, why not give it a try?
  • It’s hard to laugh when you have aches and pains – and don’t we all? – but it might be just the medicine you need. Laughing actually releases endorphins that are more powerful pain relievers than morphine. Yikes.
  • Laughter is exercise for our internal organs – stretching and massaging them. And how about those abs? I know I’ve laughed until my abs hurt. How about you?
  • Did your mom ever tell you you’d catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Well, it’s true – and that means a smile and a little laughter shared between friends, relatives, or caregivers will go a long way toward making the day a little more pleasant.
  • Laughing helps you release emotions. Humor can ease anxiety and depression, diffuse anger, lessen grief and reduce stress. It just plain makes you makes you feel better.
  • The act of laughing is truly good for your health. It expands your lungs and increases oxygen levels while stimulating your heart.

A lot of people say that someone else’s sense of humor is important to them. But how does your own stack up? If you love to smile and laugh, then spread your good humor around. If you don’t smile enough, there’s still time. Watch others. What makes them smile? What makes you happy? Make a conscious effort to smile more, complain less and have fun. You’ll be glad you did — and that’s something to smile about.

Sue Sveum from LivingSenior is a Madison-based freelance writer and senior care consultant. She is very familiar with seniors and healthcare, having worked for the American Cancer Society, Agrace HospiceCare and Mature Lifestyles newspaper for seniors.

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