The Benefits of Laughter for Older Adults

Laughter for older adults

The preacher came to call the other day. He said at my age I should be thinking of the hereafter. I told him, “Oh, I do it all the time. No matter where I am — in the parlor, upstairs, in the kitchen, or down in the basement — I ask myself, “Now, what am I here after?”

Even an old joke may get a laugh. And laughter, if not the best medicine, is definitely good for your health.

Why You Should Take Laughter Seriously

Laughter has the power to lower stress, lift spirits and connect us to others. It can improve short-term memory and increase your capacity to learn. It can help people remain resilient in the face of adversity. It may even add years to your life.

Take a closer look at the many benefits of laughter for seniors:

  1. Reduce stress Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response, reducing cortisol and other stress hormones. Overexposure to stress hormones put you at increased risk for depression, heart disease, sleep problems and memory impairment. 
  1. Protect your heart Laughter releases nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels, reduces blood pressure and decreases clotting. This can help protect you from cardiovascular problems.
  1. Improve immune system – Negative thoughts increase stress and decrease immunity. Positive thoughts like those associated with laughter release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more serious illnesses.
  1. Boost mood – Laughing boosts your intake of oxygen-rich air, enhancing the endorphins released by your brain, triggering a positive feeling in your body. In addition to boosting mood, endorphins reduce pain, which enhances mood.
  1. Improve memoryResearchers at Loma Linda University found that watching a funny video improved short-term memory in older adults and increased their capacity to learn. Researchers at the College of William & Mary found that “a wave of electricity sweeps through” the entire cerebral cortex just before we laugh. By activating all parts of the brain simultaneously, laughter may help improve cognitive functioning.
  1. Support longevity – Having a healthy sense of humor is associated with living longer. A study in Norway found that people with a strong sense of humor outlived those who don’t laugh as much. The difference was particularly notable for those battling cancer.

Find Your Happy Place at Sedgebrook

One sure way to keep laughter in your life is to spend time with happy people. At Sedgebrook, you’ll find people who enjoy each other’s company and who greet each day with a smile. To learn more about our positive approach to life, get in touch. We’re always happy to answer your questions.