We’ve all heard the popular saying, ‘laughter is the best medicine’, but could there be some truth is this cliched phrase? While laughter isn’t going to replace antibiotics any time soon, there could be more benefits than you think to a good giggle.
Recent research has suggested that sharing a laugh can have some significantly beneficial effects. Laughing stimulates both the mind and the body and has been shown to generate some positive outcomes for people young and old. Here’s how it works:
· Stress hormones are driven down
The American Physiological Society found that laughing reduced stress by driving down the hormones in the body responsible for increased agitation. Problems like stress, depression and anxiety can be common issues in older adults but sharing a good old giggle have been shown to lift the mood and improve their outlook.
· Tension is released
Over time, the build-up of tension can make our joints stiff and sore. In older people particularly, worries in their mind can translate to tension in their bodies. Laughing has been proven to provide an explosive release of this built up tension, helping muscles relax and worries melt away. Relaxed muscles can lead to additional flexibility, which is incredibly important to older people as this can help to prevent falls.
· Endorphins dull aches and pains
We’ve all heard of the ‘happy hormones’ endorphins, which generally get released after exercise, sex or chocolate. Well, they also flood our systems after a hearty laugh too, boosting our mood and supressing pain receptors. Although the natural pain relief endorphins provide is no substitute for prescription medication, it can provide some welcome respite from relentless aches that come with conditions like arthritis.
· It builds relationships and brings people closer
Nothing is better at growing a friendship and social bond between people than sharing a bit of hilarity together. Whether it’s watching a funny movie together, laughing at a good joke or simply giggling at something silly, when we laugh together, barriers are broken down and people become closer. Moving into a care home can be a frightening experience for an older person but sharing in the fun and laughter with their fellow residents is a great way to break the ice.
To help our residents enjoy a good laugh, we often put on shows, entertainment or fun activities designed to bring smiles to faces. Why not drop in and join in the fun for an afternoon. After all, we all need a good guffaw from time to time!