How Laughter and Humor Benefit the Health of Seniors
Regardless of our age, language, and physical condition, we can laugh. Even the most moody person in the world can be caught laughing over a funny story, showing lots of emotional, mental, and physical health benefits for himself and for those around him.
Positive Responses Triggered when We Laugh
- Entire body relaxation. This relieves muscle stress and tension.
- Increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone and as its levels drop, pain and inflammation throughout the body are reduced.
- Reduced blood pressure levels. This takes place along with a moderate increase in heart rate as well as enhanced oxygen intake and blood circulation.
- Stimulated immune system. This is due to the release of salivary immunoglobulin A and T-cells.
Health Benefits of Laughter
Studies claimed that laughing lowers high blood pressure as well as increases blood flow and oxygen intake, which have been linked to a decreased risk of stroke and heart attack. As laughing triggers endorphin release, it makes anyone feel better. Also, it allows the body to experience an anesthetic-like effect as it suppresses discomfort and pain for up to a couple of hours after a hearty laugh.
Mental Health and Humor
Our laughing ability is associated with having a positive outlook in life which is a necessary factor against various mental health problems like anxiety and depression. Also, laughing promotes emotional wellbeing which can help people in maintaining a stable mood and a sense of positivity throughout the day. Optimism has been associated with an improved ability to cope with stressful situations such as financial stress, disease, or a loss of a loved one.
Aging and Humor
A number of famous jokes have involved aging. Although joking on age-related changes can help in easing anxiety over aging and normalizing common senior experiences, studies have found that those who have a sense of humor tend to live longer than those who don’t have it.
Although laughing can help in preventing the onset of a lot of mental and physical illnesses, humor is emerging as a powerful medicine for degenerative and chronic conditions such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, Parkinson’s, and dementia which are all commonly experienced by older adults. Here are the impacts of humor on aging.
- Physical Wellness. Laughter is said to be beneficial in keeping the blood vessels healthy, improving cholesterol levels and lowering blood pressure.
- Emotional wellness. Castle Group Home Care, the best in terms of home care in Main Street Newtown CT, believes that humor is a tool to put our trials in perspective. And while psychologists caution against the use of humor as a mask to avoid dealing with tough emotions like grief, laughter can help us in processing painful events.
- Social engagement. Socialization promotes wellbeing for older adults. However, in later years, barriers to social engagement are experienced. According to anthropologists, humor bonds one person to another. Humor is a mechanism which developed so that people, who stayed in close quarters, could release the tension within their groups.
Healthy and Harmful Humor
In terms of laughter and humor, it is not all fun and games. The kind of things people consider to be funny these days is quite different from what was considered humorous before. Social norm changes signify that clean jokes must concentrate on poking fun at circumstances or the individual sharing the joke, instead of being harmful or sarcastic.
Generally, the majority of people do not consider jokes which mock a certain religious, minority or ethnic group to be funny. The rule of thumb is making fun of yourself, instead of others. Exposing one’s self to clean humor online, in books, and on prime-time TV shows helps in building the comfort level with the kind of jokes viewed as non-offensive and appropriate.
Humor is an individual thing. We have a unique sense of humor. What makes us laugh is likely to leave others rolling their eyes, and not all situations are an appropriate setting for laughter. However, for the majority of us, adding more laughter to life can boost healthy aging in many ways.