National Happy Hour Day is coming up this November 12. It’s a time when you can get together with friends and family to share some good conversation and laughter.
At Oakleigh Macomb, we believe the best part about National Happy Hour Day is the stories and laughter you get to share and enjoy in a social setting.
Laughter has been shown to have tremendous benefits for our health. In this post, we’re going to talk about the importance of laughter in the life of seniors and how Oakleigh Macomb incorporates the benefits of laughter in the programs we offer.
The science behind laughter
Laughter is a central part of our wellness and rehabilitation programs here at Oakleigh and Macomb. To help you understand why we’re going to examine some of the science behind laughter and why it’s especially relevant to seniors.
While the mind over matter theory was disproven in the 1990s, today the health benefits of laughter are widely accepted.
Intuitively we also know that laughter helps us handle stress, and the science backs this up as well. It goes much farther than that. Science shows that laughter is like a powerful drug that is so contagious that it can spread like a virus!
But unlike other kinds of viruses, this one carries multiple benefits to both the mind and body.
Below are X benefits that should open you up to laughing more often.
- Laughter boosts your immune system
This is according to Dr. Lee Berk from WebMD. She is a pathology professor at Loma Linda University in California.
Berk performed a test on two groups of people. One group watched humorous videos during the experiment, and the other did not.
Can you guess which group showed reduced signs of stress?
Yep, it’s the group who watched funny videos. They showed signs of a reduction in stress hormones as well as improved immune function. They also showed an increase in natural killer cells.
- Laughter is addictive
If you’re going to be addicted to something, then why not let it be laughter?
A recent study shows that laughter releases endorphins that bind to our opioid receptors. This produces a euphoria for all who share in the laughter. Everyone is affected to various degrees, depending on the number of opioid receptors in their brain.
- Laughter is contagious in social gatherings
Laughter is always better together! That’s why our impressions memory care service is so vital for seniors who may otherwise not experience much social interaction.
Going back to National Happy Hour Day – think about why many people drink alcohol at social gatherings. One of the main reasons people drink is that it enhances the social experience. It helps us to loosen up.
Laughter helps to promote a feeling of safety, which helps to calm the nerves when meeting new people.
Laughing with others also helps to promote a feeling of togetherness (aka a sense of community).
As we said earlier, laughter is contagious – and the reason why is because it helps us to form social bonds.
This is also the reason why when someone laughs; everyone else will feel compelled to do the same. Even if they don’t know what they’re laughing about!
- Laughter is good for keeping your brain active
Yes, really! The reason for this one is that laughter forces our minds to try and decipher the meaning of the laughter – is it taunting laughter, joyful, nervous, etc.? Each kind of laugh activates different regions of our brains. This is yet another benefit of laughter for seniors. Have fun, and keep your mind active at the same time!
- Laughter helps in forming social bonds
Laughter makes all relationships stronger, as well.
An interesting study found that women laugh 126% more often than men, and men tend to instigate most of that laughter.
It’s no coincidence then why women rank a sense of humor in the top 3 things they look for in a mate, and men rate women who laugh at their jokes higher than those who don’t.
Either way, laughter is a fundamental part of a successful relationship. If both people aren’t laughing, it isn’t happening!
- Laughter is the best medicine
Are you one of the 80% of older adults who suffer from a chronic condition? Or perhaps part of the 50% who suffers from at least 2? If you are, then this advice is especially important.
These days with the young kids steering away from their parents sooner, many older parents end up staying in nursing homes. Depression, which is a chronic condition, often follows suit.
Senior living communities like Oakleigh of Macomb offer the cure partly in the form of laughter.
Laughing stimulates the same area of the brain as antidepressants do, according to research. How long the effect of laughter lasts isn’t clear in the study. What is clear is that it happens powerfully, at least for a short period.
Laughter can also help people cope with pain of all kinds. In a 1995 Israeli experiment, it was shown that humor was a very compelling emotional response for subjects to withstand pain with (the most effective response was repulsion).
- Laughter is the best preventative medicine
Laughter can even help stave off heart disease. Research shows that laughter can protect blood vessels and heart muscles from cardiovascular disease. How it happens isn’t completely understood, but it seems to have something to do with the stress response and inflammation being directly linked to that.
However, once again, laughter seems to be the best preventative medicine. And this is why we consider it a crucial part of our wellness programs.
The health benefits of laughter are undeniable for everyone. But even more important are the benefits of laughter for seniors. Seniors are at the most significant risk of depression, pain, weak immune systems, and heart disease than anyone else in the general population is.
And this is why Oakleigh of Macomb tries to incorporate fun, laughter, and social harmony into all its programs.
If you’re considering choosing assisted living or memory care, we’d be glad to help you. Our friendly concierge service will make your transition into senior life as joyful and seamless as possible.
*Please note: As with any health-related topics, we suggest you consult your doctor before making a significant change to your diet