We’re all heard that laughter is the best medicine but it turns out this is truer than you might think. When we laugh, not only are our spirits are lifted, our heart is happy and we just simply feel good, but for seniors, laughing provides a variety of age-related health benefits.
Decreases Stress, Anxiety & Depression
Laughing has a lingering effect so even after laughter subsides we still feel good. Believe it or not, laughing relaxes your entire body, and can release physical tension in your muscles for up to 45 minutes. Laughing also increases our levels of dopamine (aka “feel-good” hormone), which helps to naturally reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
Gives Immune System a Boost
Laughter gives seniors a combined benefit of improved resistance to disease, and the ability to fight infections faster. It increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, and gives aging and compromised immune systems an extra boost.
Eases Pain & Inflammation
Laughter releases endorphins, which are the natural feel-good hormones that help us feel happy. Endorphins are proven to lessen your perception of physical pain for 2 full hours. Laughter also reduces your levels of cortisol (aka “stress hormone”), and will actually minimize pain and inflammation throughout your body.
Increases Memory Function
If you’re feeling stressed you might find it difficult to remember things. When the brain experiences high levels of stress and cortisol, it has trouble healing itself and making room for new memories. Since laughter reduces stress, it can actually help improve memory function.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Seniors may have an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attacks, but laughter can lower your risk of both. Laughter improves your blood circulation and oxygenation and can have a positive effect on seniors with high cholesterol or heart disease.
A Fun Workout
Ever noticed your sides or stomach ache after a good laugh? Laughing may not seem like exercise, but it actually gives you a workout for your whole body especially abdominal muscles, diaphragm!
Plus laughing can help improve respiratory health for seniors who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, or COPD. Laughing might be better than sit-ups!
As kids, laughter is simply part of our daily lives, but as we age, we may find fewer opportunities to laugh. This might be because of stress and additional pressures of life, for seniors, it may also be related to isolation.
So, call up that silly friend or family member and remember there’s no guilt in watching a show or video that makes you laugh.
If you are caring for a senior loved one be sure to take time to tell them a funny story, share a joke or watch a funny movie.
So, who knows a good joke?