The act of laughter has a tremendous ability to add some welcome relief and radiance to daily routines. Laughter emerges as the physical manifestation of a variety of emotions we encounter on a regular basis. Feelings of happiness, joy, and elation can provide a boost of energy to help tackle daily tasks and activities.
Many of us often associate laughter simply with behaviours or reactions that express positive feelings or comprehension of humour. However, laughter has a deeper connection with overall health. The reality is that laughing is linked to processes within the body that make it capable of improving various aspects of health, both mental and physical.
Engaging in activities, interactions, and experiences that promote laughter can help facilitate reactions and processes that are hugely beneficial for older adults. Merriment can also help manage or combat some of the challenges faced on a daily basis.
In the following article, the Alzheimer’s Association discusses Billy Crystal’s film “Here Today” and the benefits of laughter for those with Dementia. (Available on Prime Video)
Health Benefits of Laughter
Laughter is more powerful than simple fun and enjoyment. The act of laughing has the ability to yield great benefits to seniors’ mental and physical health.
Some health components laughter can have a positive effect on include the following:
- Immune function
- Blood pressure and cholesterol
- Anxiety and depression
Improved Immune System
Whenever you laugh, it has the effect of reducing the level of stress hormones produced by the body, like cortisol. Excess levels of stress hormones put a strain on the body, increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. When stress hormones are reduced by laughter, this helps increase immune function to fight off infection and illness.
Lowered Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Blood pressure and cholesterol are two factors linked with cardiovascular disease. Laughter causes an increase in vascular blood flow, essential oxygen, and nutrients to the brain and other organs. This increased blood flow also helps keep blood vessels and arteries from constricting and hardening.
Laughter leads to the release of nitric oxide, which helps reduce inflammation and the formation of cholesterol plaque.
Exercised Diaphragm and Abdominal Muscles
The engagement of these crucial muscles through laughter helps to keep them in shape and working as proficiently as possible. Aside from these targeted muscles, laughter invigorates almost all body systems, improving physical fitness.
Heightened Endorphin Levels
Endorphins are chemicals released by the body which help relieve pain or stress and promote feelings of pleasure and well-being. Laughter triggers the release of these feel-good chemicals to lift moods and overall health.
Minimized Stress, Depression, and Anxiety
Dopamine and Serotonin are other chemicals in the body that help manage stress and anxiety. These chemicals are also released through laughter and can be hugely impactful in minimizing feelings of anxiety and depression.
One way laughter can assist with pain reduction is through the promotion of endorphins, which are often referred to as the body’s natural painkillers. Laughter can also serve as a competent tool for distraction, redirecting attention away from pain and thereby minimizing its effects.
By reducing stress in the brain, laughter can help improve cognitive function. Regular laughter has been associated with improved memory and the capacity for critical thinking.
Social activity is essential for overall health, and laughter is a great way to form a deeper connection during social interaction.
Add Some Laughter to Your Life
We all hope that laughter will play a prevalent role in day-to-day life to keep spirits high and avoid depression. The unfortunate reality for a large number of older adults is that laughter is often a less frequent visitor as conditions change and seniors grow more isolated.
Residing at home alone, and dealing with various challenges that come with age, can increase stress and decrease opportunities for laughter. For this reason, it is imperative to make a conscious effort to find reasons to laugh every day.
Spending time with friends and family and participating in enjoyable activities, like watching favourite movies and TV shows, and reading books, offer excellent opportunities for laughter.
Seniors in Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge can take advantage of Promyse Home Companion Care services to bring some joy and laughter to their daily routines.