Did you know April is National Humor Month?
National Humor Month was conceived to heighten public awareness of the therapeutic value of humor. Laughter and joy – the benchmarks of humor – lead to improved well-being, boosted morale, increased communication skills, and an enriched quality of life.
It’s no coincidence that the month begins with April Fool’s Day, a day which has sanctioned frivolity and amusement for hundreds of years.
Humor as a tool to lift ailing spirits is an established notion supported by scientific research. The curative power of laughter and its ability to relieve debilitating stress and burnout may indeed be one of the great medical discoveries of our times.
Humor and aging jokes often go hand in hand as well. What’s so funny about getting old? You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you’re down there. Aging is an issue that creates dissonance in most of us. Popular humor in birthday cards tells us that the passing of another year means we are getting wrinkly, unattractive and incontinent. Rare is the card for a birthday over age 39 that talks about aging as a joyful, happy experience.
But the truth is that there are many health benefits to laughter and keeping your humor is very important to aging seniors. While the science of humor is a relatively new discipline, research studies on the health benefits of laughter consistently demonstrate the connection between laughing and longevity. Researchers know that laughing lowers blood pressure while increasing blood flow and oxygen intake, all positive physiological effects that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart attack and stroke.
Because laughing triggers the release of the drug-like neurochemical endorphin, laughing simply makes people feel better all over. Laughing also can have an anesthetic-like effect on the body, suppressing physical pain and discomfort for up to two hours following a hearty chuckle.
The ability to laugh is also closely tied to having a positive outlook on life, an important protective factor against numerous mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, specifically with aging seniors.
Laughing also promotes emotional well-being, helping people maintain a positive outlook and stable mood throughout the day. Optimism has been linked to improved resiliency; the ability to cope with stressful situations despite numerous obstacles such as disease, financial stress or the loss of a loved one, particularly when seniors start losing friends.
While laughing has been shown to help prevent the onset of many physical and mental illnesses, humor is also emerging as one of the most powerful medicines for chronic and degenerative conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.
To help your loved ones gain the most physical and mental health benefits from humor, help them try to laugh every single day. Look for ways to schedule humor into their daily routine by subscribing to a “Joke of the Day” email, read the comics to each other in the daily newspaper or watch a funny television show together. Once you make laughing a daily habit, you will begin to enjoy the numerous health benefits of humor.
If your loved one is craving companionship, Home Care can help! Research shows that social interaction is one of the most important aspects of living a long, healthy life. An overview of our services can be found on our website.
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