Laughter…The Best Medicine

by Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

Evelyn J. Mocbeichel

My mom belongs to a very active, busy senior center in her home town. (Now of course they are temporarily closed for health reasons to protect both the seniors, van drivers and staff.) When operational the center has had frequent guest speakers, gives interesting handout publications and plans an array of day trips and outings for their members to enjoy. One time a guest speaker talked about ways to relax, how to deal with stress, avoid anger and various topics on personal relationships and feelings. One of the topics discussed dealt with humor and how some senior citizens seemed to be short of this in part of their lives. I have seen this over the years in some of the programs our senior family members do not care to watch, declaring “that’s not funny” or “I don’t get it.” It’s obvious that many sitcoms are age based situations that perhaps the senior is not going through any more. Programs about work environments, or ones dealing with little children, divorced couples or sci-fi programs might just not be their “cup of tea.” A sense of humor might be an age related topic and how you feel and think may affect your sense of humor.

It has been proven that a hearty laugh can help reduce stress, elevate your mood, boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure and make you feel good. Often it can connect one to others and fosters instant relaxation. While these are all benefits of laughter, finding things that make you laugh may be another area that eludes a senior, especially one living alone. Just how can a senior, or for that matter, anyone expand a sense of humor? Have you noticed that some people seem to be happy all the time and laugh easily, while others are quiet, almost to the point of being glum or are constantly complaining about something? Is this a reflection on ones personality, or merely a lack of exposure to things that provoke laughter?

No matter your age, there are ways to expand a sense of humor. Look around you for daily humor, as it is there. Observe young children and infants and that can make you smile just looking at their antics and hearing some of the things they come out with when they talk. Older readers may remember the talk show host, Art Linkletter. He made a living with a successful program called “Kids Say the Darndest Things” and it was fun to watch. If you enjoy TV, watch more comedy shows and lighthearted programs. If you hear a funny joke or one liner, jot it down and share it with someone. On a daily basis the TV and radio news might be gloomy and distressing, so try to avoid listening to these sad events on a continual basis. Horrible things happen, but there is no need to spend weeks watching the same sad coverage repeatedly. Finally, the best thing you can do to find a sense of humor is to spend time with happy people that are uplifting and funny. Remind yourself to have fun and enjoy life when you can. Your health, personality and good times may improve because of it!