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

8 Ways an Independent Living Community Supports Your Lifestyle

What do you want out of retirement? The freedom to roam? Relief from all the responsibilities of owning a home? Time to pursue self-fulfillment? Exceptional services and amenities? No matter how you perceive your desired retirement lifestyle, take a look at some of...

Health Changes to Look for When Visiting Mom Over the Holidays

The holidays are a wonderful time to get together with family and friends, but they also offer an opportunity to assess the health and well-being of a senior loved one. This is especially true if it has been weeks or months since the last visit since changes will...

Dementia: Understanding Sundown Syndrome

Dementia is a devastating diagnosis with many implications, not the least of which is a condition known as sundown syndrome. Also called sundowning or sundowner’s syndrome this condition generally strikes late in the day as the sun goes down but can occur anytime...

5 Tips for Better Mornings with Arthritis

“Arthritis” is an umbrella term for a variety of diseases and conditions that cause joint pain and inflammation.  While people of all ages can have arthritis, seniors often expect arthritis to occur as they age and when it does, mornings can be especially painful....

Why Everyone Needs an Advance Directive

Do you know what will happen if you are suddenly incapacitated and cannot make decisions for yourself? While it’s human nature to adhere to the “that won’t happen to me” mindset, the reality is that no one knows what the future holds. That’s why every adult needs an...

5 Decorating Tips for Your Senior Living Retirement Home

After years of living in a family home, moving to a senior living community and starting anew means decorating a new senior living home, something that can be a fun and exciting experience. But where to begin? Whether the new home is a house, condo, cottage or...

The Alzheimer’s Disease Challenges Women Face

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating and its prevalence is on the rise. According to the alz.org report, “2023 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures,” in 2023 there are about 6.7 million Americans age 65 and older with the disease, and as the population ages, that...

Home Safety for Older Adults: A Checklist of Top Considerations

Home safety for older adults is top of mind concern for loved ones and adult children. According to the AARP Home and Community Preference Survey,  79% of seniors (ages 50 and above) prefer to live at home as they age, but only about 34% recognize they may need to...

What Services Do Memory Care Communities Provide?

Making the decision to move yourself or a loved one to a memory care community should be a well-informed one. All memory care communities are not created equal, but the best have several things in common. When comparing memory care communities be sure to include the...

Share This