Laughter is the Best Medicine

Posted on

Mar 18, 2021

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Life throws many stressors our way, posing a constant challenge for our mental health.

Unfortunately, older adults have many unique stressors that they face. Deteriorating health, reduced independence, healthcare costs, and inability to do their favorite activities are common stressors for the elderly.

As we age, coping with stress becomes even more difficult and more important. Our response to stress -- as well as the triggers we experience change as we get older -- make itharder to copewith stress. Luckily, laughter is an excellentstress relieverthat everyone, including older adults, can use to cope with stress.

How Stress Affects Older Adults

Stress affects all of us mentally and physically, but it is especially harmful to older adults. Some of the most common effects of chronic stress on older adults include:

Lowered immune system
Heart conditions
Hearing and vision loss from long-term adrenaline production
Digestive issues from the central nervous system shutting down

Use Laughter for Stress Relief

While there are certainly times to visit the doctor, laughter is one effective method for relieving stress that everyone, especially older adults, can benefit from. Laughter has incredible short-term and long-term health benefits. According to theMayo Clinic, the short-term benefits of laughter include:

Reduction of the stress response
Relaxation of muscles and tension
Stimulation of organs
Release of endorphins
Reduce physical pain
Alleviate symptoms ofdepressionand anxiety

Laughter helps improve how your body works and feels in the moment, but it also has lasting effects. Thelong-term effectsof laughter include:

Ease ofchronic painincluding arthritis and other common progressive diseases
Boost to the immune system
Connection with other people
Better coping with situations
Live a longer life
Improved quality of life
Makes us happier
Reduction of anxiety and depression
Improve your sense of humor

Why Does Laughter Help?

Many of the mental benefits of laughter are intuitive, but how does it help us physically? Laughter affects the body similar to exercise. When you laugh your pulse quickens and your move more muscles. You breathe faster, boosting the oxygen in your blood. Laughter can be seen as a mild form of exercise. While laughter will not help you lose weight, it produces some similar effects as exercise which contributes to the many physical benefits.

Scientistscan not say for sure if the actual act of laughing is what helps, or if social support and humor are contributing factors. Regardless, the situations that produce laughter are also beneficial. When it comes down to it, laughter certainly isnt hurting.

Ways to Laugh

Laughter is an excellent natural relief for stress that greatly helps improve mental and physical health. Finding ways to laugh is very important for seniors. One way to laugh more often is to intentionally seek out photos, comics, movies, or videos that you find humorous, and to hang them up or return to them when you need a laugh. Seniors who are able can also attend a local comedy night or even watch one online.

One of the best ways to laugh more is to surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Get together with family and friends who lift your mood. Join peer groups to meet other people in your living community who you can laugh with.
Written & Submitted By: Care Patrol- click for more information*

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