Nobody likes to be sad, but the stark reality is that millions of Americans aged 65-and-over feel lonely, depressed or unhappy every day. Not only do those negative feelings keep them from enjoying life, aging in place seniors who remain unhappy are placed at higher risk for developing health problems that ultimately threaten their freedom and independence. If you’re currently caring for an elderly loved one who could use some cheering up, here are some of the reasons why laughter may be the “medicine” they need to ensure a higher quality of life.
Why Do Seniors Feel Sad?
When an older person is feeling sad, it’s usually for one or more of these reasons:
- Loss of a spouse, other relative or close friend
- Financial problems
- Chronic medical condition
- Cognitive effects of dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Poor mobility/ being bedridden
- Can’t keep up their home like before
- Losing their driving privileges
- Don’t feel needed or wanted any more
Scientists have found a strong correlation between a senior’s sense of wellbeing and their overall health. Studies have determined that the more negative an older person is, the more likely they are to be sick, stressed out and socially isolated. And that’s simply not good for their freedom and independence.
How Laughter Benefits Seniors
Now that you’ve seen how being unhappy affects seniors, these are the many ways that humor and laughter benefit them:
- Strengthens heart and abdominal muscles
- Leads to new socializing opportunities and friendships
- Relieves stress by lowering cortisol levels
- Increases blood flow and circulation
- Improves mental acuity and memory
- Helps their immune system fight illnesses
How to Turn Their Frown Upside Down
As their caregiver, you don’t have to be a professional comedian to put a smile on your senior’s face. Here are some simple ways to do so:
Take Them Dancing
Most older people have fond memories of listening to their favorite songs while dancing the night away with a significant other. Make your loved one laugh by taking them dancing, or even dance with them right in their home.
Tell Some Jokes
Come prepared with a joke whenever you’re over at your senior’s house. If that strategy seems to be working, buy them a good joke book or show them how to visit online comedy sites like the Laugh Factory. Taking in an early show at the local comedy club can also be fun, but make sure the comedian’s material is age appropriate.
Try Laughter Yoga
Yes, there are really Yoga classes that focus on making participants laugh. It’s called “Hasyayoga”, and it’s a fun, healthy form of exercise that’s even suitable for wheelchair-bound seniors.
TV Shows or Movies
Find out what your senior’s favorite funny TV shows or movies are and then help them find those through a TV-streaming service or at the video store. Once that’s done, sit down together with a healthy snack and enjoy some laughs!
For someone with dementia, looking at old photos that captured funny moments spent with family and friends is a sure-fire way to make them smile again. If they feel the urge to reconnect with some of those old family members or friends, arrange a reunion at a local park or restaurant and watch the laughter begin!
If your loved one is healthy enough to care for a pet, buy them a small dog or cat to keep them company. Not only will a furry companion encourage activity and help your senior feel appreciated, watching a puppy or kitten is sure to create some laughs.
In-Home Caregivers that Love Making Seniors Smile
Looking after an aging in place senior is highly rewarding, but it can also be difficult when you have your own household to manage or live far away. When you need a hand, contact Family Services of Central Massachusetts. FSCM has compassionate caregivers that love making seniors smile so they can continue aging comfortably and independently in place right where they want to be.
Our experienced aides use a proven process that’s filled with attention to detail and expertise to deliver in-home services like light housekeeping, personal care, escorted transportation, meals, companionship, laundry, grocery shopping and prescription pickups. And, it’s always our goal to serve as an extended family in your loved one’s home that’s there to assist yours. For more information about Family Services of Central Massachusetts, please contact us today at: www.fscm.org!