Health Benefits of Laughter for Seniors

Jun 19, 2019
senior laughing with her caregiver

Humans have many things in common despite race, color, creed, or geographic origin. One of those is laughter. From infancy forward, we all laugh, and now science is finding that laughter isn’t just for fun, it’s also beneficial to our health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, laughter’s short-term benefits are real and researchers have documented a variety of positive impacts on the body. The article, “Stress relief from laughter? It’s no joke,” notes that the benefits of laughter include:

  • Increased oxygen intake which increases endorphins and “stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles.”
  • Helping you relax by increasing then decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Reducing stress through improved circulation and muscle relaxation.

The article also points out long-term benefits such as the release of chemicals called neuropeptides that fight stress, other chemicals that fight pain, and improved mood and coping skills.

For the elderly, laughter therapy is showing promise in treating both physical and mental conditions.

In a 2019 study, patients at an elderly day care center received laughter therapy once a week for four weeks and were found to have benefitted from reduced blood pressure, as well as “alleviation of geriatric depression/bodily pain and improvement of sociability/activity.” Another study looked at laughter during physical activity with seniors and found the combination may help to improve “mental health, aerobic endurance and confidence in their ability to exercise.”

While you might be thinking that sometimes there’s just nothing to laugh about, when it comes to laughter therapy, there doesn’t have to be. Forced laughter can be as beneficial as laughing for a reason and may even become real after a few minutes. In fact, purposeful laughter is at the root of a rising movement to integrate laughing into daily therapy and social activities for people of all ages, including the elderly.

One way to get your daily laughs is laughter yoga, also known as Hasya Yoga. Laughter yoga is designed to get people laughing for no reason while performing yoga breathing exercises, both of which are physically and mentally beneficial. Developed by Indian physician Madan Kataria in the 1990s, laughter yoga has become a movement with more than 5,000 Laughter Yoga clubs around the world. But you don’t need a club, you can participate along with Kataria on his YouTube video.

Whether you are in an organized group setting with a leader or alone at home, you can make laughter therapy a part of your routine and start receiving all of its wonderful benefits. Here are some great resources to help you learn more and get you laughing:

Laughter Yoga University, the official site of Madan Kataria, offers a wealth of information from how to get started with laughter yoga to training opportunities. You can download country-specific information, read blogs and articles, even book a speaker.

Laughter Wellness emphasizes laughter as a path to better mental, physical and spiritual health, and improved quality of life. The Laughter Store also offers e-books and videos on laughter therapy.

Laughter Online University is dedicated to teaching about laughter therapy and positive thinking and living. The Science section also provides plenty of research on the benefits of laughter.

Laughter Yoga Institute provides a range of information about laughter yoga including a blog and an exercise archive. There are also a variety of programs listed including seminars, workshops and “heart-opening Laughter Adventures.”

AARP goes in depth with a variety of articles that include laughter as a healthy therapy for seniors.

Web MD offers dozens of articles on the subject of laughter, how it works and how it can help people with conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and even cancer.

Science.gov is for the more clinically inclined who want to read the latest scientific research on laughter therapy and how it works.

The National Institutes of Health provides a compendium of professional research in the area of laughter therapy and its health benefits.

The Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor is a professional organization for laughter/humor therapy providers, but also offers insights for the lay person into how laughter can really help.

The International Society for Humor Studies offers a variety of research and resources for professionals in the practice of humor therapy.

If you’re considering laughter therapy for you or a loved one, remember it is intended to enhance, not replace prescribed therapies and medications. If you’re not sure about laughter therapy, keep in mind that it’s free, you already know how to do it, and there are no negatives impacts if you overdose. With laughter, the more you do it, the better you’ll feel!

For information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost, and amenities.

assisted living near me

Subscribe to our blog.

Recent Posts

5 Things to Look for in an Independent Living Community

An independent living community can be the perfect retirement solution when you choose the right senior living community. That’s why it is so important to thoroughly vet your options before making your choice. One of the best ways to do that is by touring independent...

Four Wonderful Things to Expect in an Independent Living Community

Retirement is the time of life to really make every day one to remember, whether it’s traveling, revisiting an old hobby, relaxing at home with friends and family, writing a book, or taking classes just to learn something new. All those things you never had time for...

What Is Independent Living?

Retirement brings with it many decisions, not the least of which is where to live. For many older adults, independent living is the perfect choice because it has all the benefits of a home without all the costs and hassles of home ownership. But others may not...

Do You Have Caregiver Burnout? 6 Ways Assisted Living Helps

Being a caregiver can be a fulfilling way to honor an aging parent or loved one, but it can also become an overwhelming job as time goes on. The daily tasks, worries, and responsibilities of caregiving can ultimately result in caregiver burnout, a real and very...

Michigan Senior Living: The Complete Guide for 2022

Ready to find your forever home in Michigan? You’re in luck! Few states come close to the natural beauty, affordability and high quality of life found in Pure Michigan. No matter what type of retirement community you’re looking for, you can find it here — if you know...

What the Best Michigan Memory Care Residences Have to Offer

For seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia, memory loss can be jarring, lonely and even anger-inducing. They may be unable to remember basic facts, like what year it is, their location or a loved one’s name, all of which can contribute to feelings of a lost identity....

Top Qualities of the Best Retirement Communities in Michigan

Entering your golden years can be an exhilarating adventure, or it can be a stressful, uncertain transition. For most people, the difference comes down to whether or not they feel secure and supported in their new phase of life. Finding a retirement community that...

Assisted Living in Michigan: Everything You Need to Know

What happens when seniors can no longer live comfortably at home? Some people think that being unable to live alone means that a senior should enter nursing care, but that’s not necessarily true. The reality is that there are several living options in between total...

Share This