How Laughing Is the Best Medicine for Seniors

It is often said that laughing is a huge part of living well. Laughing is the best medicine that can naturally help heal your body and mind.

But who says that laughter is the best medicine? Turns out, a lot of people… Including doctors and physicians and the wonderful residents of our retirement home.

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As we age, laughter tends to happen less and less. This is due to added responsibilities and a better understanding of our world.

Life can get complicated, but focusing on the good and finding reasons to smile and laugh can enhance your life and even help you live longer! But you may ask yourself, “Who thinks laughing is the best medicine?”

Laughter is powerful. It can bring people together, ease anger, and encourages joy and hope.  So let’s talk about the importance of laughing, how it affects our health, and why laughing is the best medicine for everyone, especially seniors.

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Health Benefits of Laughter

There are so many ways that laughter gives your body an extra boost. Laughing causes chemical reactions within your body that are good for your overall health. The Mayo Clinic states that:

It has been scientifically proven that laughter can reduce stress, improve health, and even lower blood pressure – which could add years to your life!

Below we will break down the health benefits of laughter, both short-term and long-term.

Short-Term Benefits of Laughter

  • Triggers the release of endorphins – Endorphins are chemicals in your brain designed to lower stress levels. Laughing releases these endorphins causing a response in your body. Endorphins are also immediate mood boosters.
  • Relieves stress – A domino effect of lower blood pressure is stress relief. Laughing also tends to release tension in the body, which is an immediate stress reliever as well.
  • Eases tension, anger, & anxiety – It is near impossible to be tense or angry when you genuinely laugh. The release of a happy emotion creates an instant attitude change.
  • Lowers your heart rate – The American Lung Association says, “Laughter initially increases, then decreases your heart rate and blood pressure, resulting in relaxation.”

Long-Term Benefits of Laughter

  • Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol – This happens because of an increase in blood oxygenation and aiding circulation. And lower blood pressure and cholesterol have been proven to lower the risk of heart disease! It’s a domino effect:  Laugh → Release endorphins → Less stress → Lower blood pressure → Lower risk of heart disease.
  • Boosts your immune system – Laughter is the best medicine and aids infection-fighting antibodies, which boosts your immune system. Being able to fight infection effectively is essential to living a healthy life.
  • Help seniors with asthma and bronchitis – Laughing exercises the abdominal muscles and diaphragm, which can help those with asthma conditions and bronchitis.
  • Relieves Pain – Endorphins released while laughing can lessen your perception of physical pain and minimize inflammation throughout your body.
  • Enthusiasm for life and self-esteem increases – People who laugh often tend to have a better outlook on life and find more joy in living it.

Although laughing can occur when watching television or reading alone, it often happens during social interaction.

Laughter is a standard social signal. No matter which language you speak, all humans understand laughter. It is a common thread that unites us all.

Because of this, frequent social interactions are essential for your quality of life. Close relationships and socializing with others can ensure you have ample chances to smile and laugh throughout the day.

Health Benefits of Laughter for Seniors

Elder Couple Smiling

So now that we have established that laughter is good for everyone let’s focus on the benefits of laughter specifically for seniors.

As we age, so does our immune system, which can make us more susceptible to disease.

Since laughter boosts our infection-fighting antibodies and releases endorphins, it can benefit our immune system.

Laughter also reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which can minimize the pain and inflammation that seniors often struggle with. Higher than normal levels of cortisol can also alter immune system responses and suppress the digestive system.

It can also affect things like mood, motivation, and fear- which can be helpful in a dangerous or stressful situation but can cause issues if high levels are present for no apparent reason.

Memory loss is also something older adults may encounter. Since laughter lowers stress, it allows your brain to focus better, thus improving your memory as well.

Meaningful relationships are vital as we age. Laughter is an excellent source of making and strengthening relationships and can attract others to you and you to them.

As previously mentioned, having solid relationships and the ability to socialize increase your opportunities for laughter.

Ways to Increase Laughing

Life can get hard. Often, as older adults, we find it increasingly difficult to find humor in things.

Children often laugh hundreds of times a day, while older adults, on average, laugh significantly less.

Since it is such a vital tool in living well, we should seek out humor where we can. There are so many ways to find and engage in laughing.

Things like:

  • Senior woman laughingGathering with family and reminiscing of fun times
  • Watching a comedy
  • Visiting with small children
  • Watching your pet play
  • Playing a board game or cards

These are all easy steps to create more joy and laughter in your daily life. If the simple things don’t seem to work, you may want to look into laughter therapy.

Laughter therapy brings humor into a clinical setting to help you open up to those around you and often work through difficult emotions.

This type of therapy can happen in one-on-one sessions or a group. Group sessions often include stretching, singing, clapping, and dancing.

Often, these group sessions are not explicitly labeled as “laughter therapy,” but these are the types of gatherings that can bring about the desired outcome of joy and laughter.

FAQs on Laughing

Who Says Laughing Is the Best Medicine?

The saying “laughter is the best medicine” is recorded in this form in the late 20th century. However, a similar phrase and philosophy can be found throughout recorded history.

Most notably, Proverbs 17:22 states:

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

“Laugh and be fat” and “laugh and be well” are also both expressions that have been used for centuries.

What Is the Importance of Laughing?

Beyond simply feeling great, laughter comes with a host of health benefits. Benefits like:

  • Releases endorphins
  • Relieves stress
  • Eases tension, anger, and anxiety
  • Lowers your heart rate
  • Reduces blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Helps seniors with asthma and bronchitis
  • Relieves Pain
  • Enhances social connections with others

Does Laughing Lower the Heart Rate?

It does. According to the American Lung Association, laughter initially increases and decreases your heart rate. It also lowers your blood pressure, making you feel more relaxed and easing anxiety.

Cape Albeon Amenities

At Cape Albeon’s Harbor, we not only want to give our residents peace of mind, but we want them to continue living a joyful, well-rounded, and active life.

We know that socializing and building solid relationships is essential later in life, and we strive to give our residents every opportunity.

There are so many things that Cape Albeon offers to ensure you stay fulfilled in your desires for social interaction, cultural excursions, shopping, and fine dining.

Events and Amenities that will enhance your lifestyle and encourage social interaction and laughter include:

  • Happy hour with live music
  • Shopping excursions
  • Trips to cultural attractions
  • Games such as bingo, bridge, and poker
  • Line dancing
  • Theater Room

Along with these great social opportunities, Cape Albeon participates in an intergenerational program where children from a nearby daycare come by to visit our residents.  At Cape, we firmly do believe laughing is the best medicine.

And don’t worry, if you need a break from socializing, Cape Albeon has other ways you can add joy to your life. Walk along the lake or enjoy a chef-prepared meal at our lakeside dining room.

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Cape Albeon knows the benefits of companionship and even allows small pets to keep you company and entertained.

For the best experience, come see all our amenities yourself by scheduling a tour at Cape Albeon today!

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