It’s no secret that caregiving takes a toll even on the most patient and empathetic of caregivers. Maybe that has something to do with how one-fourth of all caregivers spend 41 hours per week or more on caregiving activities – the equivalent of a full-time job!
This level of care can quickly become tiring, regardless of how loving or motivated a caregiver may be. As many as 40 to 70 percent of caregivers show signs of clinical depression, which makes it much more difficult for them to truly enjoy life.
Of course, the aging process is not all roses for seniors, either. As they age, seniors may have increasing difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs), mobility and memory. As many as 17 percent of seniors over 65 are socially isolated, and around one-half of seniors over 75 live by themselves. This loneliness and isolation leads to higher levels of anxiety and depression and less engagement with the broader world.
If this sounds heavy to you, you’re right. Aging and caregiving can be uncomfortable and sometimes upsetting. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
The Therapeutic Power of Humor
People say laughter is the best medicine, and increasingly, science is proving this adage correct. The suggestion to “be happy” isn’t a meaningless platitude but a blueprint to better health. Humor, smiling and laughter have all sorts of positive effects on the brain and body, including:
- The release of dopamine and endorphins, which decreases pain
- Lowered cortisol levels, which reduce stress and anxiety
- An increase in antibodies, which bolsters the immune system
- Improved blood flow and function of the cardiovascular system
- Relaxation of the muscles
- Increased motivation and persistence in completing tasks
- Enhanced learning ability
Humor also brings people together. They feel freer to socialize and be themselves when in the company of those who enjoy a hearty guffaw every now and again. And, health benefits aside, sometimes humor is just a great way to laugh at ourselves and diffuse tension.
How Humor Can Help Seniors
A few studies have specifically examined the positive effect that humor may have on seniors. In a 2014 California study, researchers wanted to know whether comedy videos would have any effect on short-term memory. To find out, they separated their participants – healthy seniors with a mean age of 69.3 years – into two groups. The experimental group got to watch one of two comedy videos, whereas the control group sat and relaxed. Both groups then completed a series of learning and memory tasks. The researchers found that watching a funny video improved the learning ability of the seniors in the experimental group as well as their delayed recall. These findings suggest that seniors’ short-term memory may be positively affected by humor.
A 2010 study in Hong Kong also found humor beneficial for their participants – nursing home residents with chronic pain. In this quasi-experimental study, residents in one nursing home completed an 8-week humor therapy program, while the residents of a different nursing home spent their days normally with no changes to their routine. Humor therapy took place for one hour each week. During this humor therapy, residents would hear a joke, create a collection of things that were funny to them and learn about the positive effects of humor and how to find humor in their own lives. At the end of the study, the humor therapy group reported less pain, less loneliness, more happiness and more satisfaction with life.
Jokes and Stories About Aging and Caregiving
If you are a caregiver or senior looking for some funny inspiration, the following jokes and stories just might cause you to crack a smile.
You Might Be a Caregiver If…
If you start dividing your M&M’s into a pill box, chances are, you’re a caregiver.
If you remember your parent’s Social Security number, but can’t remember your own, you’re probably a caregiver.
If you’ve ever changed a dressing while cooking turkey with dressing, you might be a caregiver.
~Comedian Jeff Foxworthy and caregiver Peter Rosenberg, courtesy of AARP
“He couldn’t balance well, due to the stroke. When he swung the golf club, I had to squat down and hold his belt so he wouldn’t fall. One time, he did fall… right on top of me. We ended up in a very compromising position. His response was, ‘We have to stop meeting like this.’ We both just cracked up. It lightened up the moment, and turned an awkward situation into a hilarious one.”
~Former caregiver Cindy Laverty on a funny moment with her father-in-law, courtesy of AgingCare.com
Keeping Up Appearances
An elderly shopper at our supermarket used a check to buy such items as cotton balls, cotton swabs, powder, and cold cream. On the memo line, she’d written, “Repairs.”
I’m 103 Years Old
A reporter was interviewing a 103-year-old woman. “And what do you think is the best thing about being 103?” the reporter asked.
She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”
Find Community at Silver Creek Retirement in St. Augustine, FL
Retirement isn’t just the next phase of your life, it’s a new beginning! At Silver Creek Retirement, we believe in the importance of meeting friends, finding new hobbies and sharing laughs with neighbors no matter your age.
Silver Creek offers a continuum of care, including assisted living, memory care, and respite care. Our caregivers are available to residents 24/7 and our residences are maintenance-free and upgraded with quality amenities. We also provide a wide range of fun activities so residents have opportunities to get to know each other and find a pastime they truly enjoy.
To take a tour of our community, contact us online or call us today at 800-940-0988.<< News
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