Nobody likes to feel sad. Unfortunately, millions of Americans aged 65+ wake up feeling lonely, depressed, or unhappy every day. Not only do those negative emotions keep them from living life to the fullest, aging in place seniors who are unhappy are at higher risk for developing health problems that can even threaten their independence. If you’re informally caregiving for an elderly loved one who could use a little cheering up, here’s why putting a little humor back in their life is so important for their continued health and wellbeing.
Why Do Seniors Feel Sad?
When that special senior in your life is feeling sad it’s usually for one or more of these reasons:
- Loss of a spouse, close relative, or dear friend
- Being newly diagnosed with a terminal illness
- Poor mobility
- Chronic medical condition
- Financial difficulties
- Losing their driving privileges
- Cognitive decline caused by dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Feeling unwanted or no longer needed
Researchers have found a strong correlation between a senior’s sense of wellbeing and overall health. In fact, the more negative and unhappy an elderly person is, the more likely they are to get sick, feel stressed out, or to socially isolate from others.
How a Sense of Humor While Caregiving Can Help
On the other hand, seniors that are exposed to humor and laughter tend to enjoy these health benefits as a result:
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression by lowering cortisol (stress hormone) levels
- Strengthens heart and abdominal muscles, which aids breathing, blood flow, and circulation
- Encourages physical activity and exercise
- Lowers elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels
- Strengthens their immune system
- Improves mental acuity and memory, which helps prevent dementia
- Leads to new socializing opportunities and healthy friendships
As you can see, laughter truly is the “best medicine” for your elderly loved one!
How to Make Your Loved One Laugh
As a caregiver, you don’t have to be a professional comedian to make your loved one laugh. Here are some easy ways to turn their frown upside down so that they will enjoy a higher quality of life:
Share a few jokes
Whenever you visit your loved one come prepared with a good joke. If that works, buy them a joke book or show them how to watch funny videos on comedic websites like the Laugh Factory. Taking in an early show at the local comedy club can also be a laugh-inducer but be sure that the performer’s material is age-appropriate first.
You’ve probably heard about the benefits that Yoga provides to a practitioner’s body and mind. Now there are even laughter Yoga, or “Hasayayoga”, classes. In general, laughter Yoga is a fun, healthy form of exercise that’s safe for most seniors.
Notably for someone living with dementia, seeing old photos that captured funny moments shared with family and friends is a great way to make them smile again. Better yet, if they show an interest in reconnecting with those family members or old friends arrange a get-together at a local park or restaurant.
Take them dancing
Many older adults have fond memories of listening to their favorite songs while dancing the night away with significant others. Make your loved one laugh again by taking them dancing at the local senior center, or maybe put on some music and dance with them right at home.
Find them a new pet
If your senior is otherwise healthy and mobile enough to care for a pet, find them a small dog or cat to keep them company. Not only will a newfound furry friend encourage your loved one to stay active and make them feel needed, watching a puppy or kitten is a sure-fire way to bring a smile to their face!
Compassionate Caregiving With a Sense of Humor
Caring for an aging in place senior is a labor of love, but it can also be challenging when you have your own household to manage or live far away. When you need assistance, contact us. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency our compassionate caregiving professionals love making keeping the humor in seniors’ lives so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
In addition to companionship care, our highly trained caregivers can deliver other in-home services like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, medication reminders, transportation, respite care, and even live-in or 24-hour care. To learn more now about our flexible rates and hours, or to schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area today, please visit us online!