By Beth Pinyerd
For us seniors, it seems like yesterday when we were wide-eyed and happy as we looked at 1964 Mary Poppins’ character Uncle Albert floating to the top of the ceiling while singing “I Love to Laugh.”
Laughing is definitely “a spoonful of sugar” in the routine of our senior days. It is contagious among the young and old and across culture lines.
Laughter and a sense humor can yield many health benefits. A good, hearty laugh relaxes the whole body by releasing physical tension and stress. When sharing jokes and funny times in our lives in sit-and-chat groups, it is noticed that the complaints of pain are reduced and there is an overall sense of well being.
Medical research has shown that laughter protects the heart by improving the function of blood vessels and strengthens the blood flow. Laughing is good cardiovascular exercise. Laughing helps the heart like brisk walking, light running or jogging would. What a joyful benefit for we seniors!
The ability to laugh promotes a positive outlook on life. Joy, zest to live, relieving anxiety and fear as well as mood improvement are the mental health benefits of laughter.
Genuine laughter is infectious and a key ingredient in promoting many social benefits. Relationships are strengthened and group bonding is promoted in senior groups by laughter. Conflicts are reduced by sharing a good laugh.
How do humor and growing old go hand in hand? So many of our favorite and popular jokes by comedians, programs, books focus on the process
of aging. Joking and kidding over age-related changes can ease a lot of anxiety because we are growing
old together. This is so true in senior groups when clean, wholesome jokes are shared.
Often, seniors make fun of themselves with other seniors as we walk down the lane of aging together. Too, laughter and optimism improve resiliency in the way we cope with everyday life and its challenges. Laughter and humor are also being shown to be natural, powerful medicines for chronic, degenerative conditions like dementia, alzheimer’s and parkinson’s. As an activity volunteer with seniors, I have seen the benefits of laughter first hand.
While promoting laughing and a sense of humor in the facilities where I volunteer, I check out DVDs from our local library with comedy shows from the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Our local newspapers in certain editorials and columns promote conversation starters.
Senior adults love to get their newspapers. The same kind of resources can be gathered to outreach to individual elderly people who are being cared for by a family or caregiver in their homes too. Certain websites provide generational jokes from certain eras that can be downloaded and printed.
And last but not least, seniors love to share funny memories of their families, friends and themselves. Let’s take it from our senior friends, “Take time to laugh.”
Pinyerd has taught young children in the Early Childhood Classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. If you have photos or events you would like to have featured in our education section, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org.