My client Sarah, age 82, had several chronic health issues but always seemed to have a positive attitude and greeted me with a smile. She often took on the role of ‘entertainment director’ at her assisted living facility, encouraging other residents to participate in games, arts and crafts, and outings. Her latest activity was arranging a weekly “comedy movie night.”
“It helps to cheer folks up,” she told me, showing me the line-up of movies the group had selected for that month. “Some people living here could really use a good laugh and get their mind off their troubles. Plus, it gets them out of their rooms to socialize a bit. Last night we watched one of the old Pink Panther movies with Peter Sellers. What a hoot! I forgot how funny those movies are. We were cracking up!”
Sarah was right on target. Laughter and a positive outlook are especially important for seniors and can improve their quality of life. Laughter releases chemicals in our bodies called endorphins, which lower stress. Besides being a mood-booster, research shows that laughter can decrease blood pressure, reduce pain, relieve anxiety and depression, and improve memory in older adults. It can even have beneficial effects on the immune system by decreasing stress hormones and increasing immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies. Laughter and positivity have been shown in some studies to make the difference between healing from an illness or passing on.
There are several social benefits too. As Sarah noted, getting together for movie night helped residents bond with each other and strengthen their friendships. Sharing a laugh can ease loneliness and make people feel happier and more relaxed.
Besides watching funny movies, you can create opportunities to laugh and have fun every day. Maybe it’s going to a comedy club with friends, hosting a game night, reading the comics, sharing a funny joke, playing goofy games with children, or doing something fun with others such as miniature golf, playing Jenga, cards, or whatever makes you feel joyful. As Mark Twain once said, “Humor is the great thing, the saving thing after all. The minute it crops up, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations, and resentments flit away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
If you or someone in your family are facing aging challenges, please give us a call at 850-894-6720 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be happy to assist!
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