Hear a joke: Eight surprising benefits to the importance of laughter in old age

Every culture around the world values ​​humor, and laughter is a “universal” and global language. Laughter is a proven remedy for bitterness, discouragement and despair and recent medical studies in the United States have shown that laughter relieves anger and helps every person, especially in old age, cope and break free from distress such as loneliness, loss and deterioration of the senses.

Laughter is associated with community and a sense of togetherness. Anat Mike, a certified gerontologist and director of culture at “Ahuzat Tzahala Sheltered Housing”, has eight notable advantages to the importance of humor in old age:

Laughter helps relieve stress: Laughter reduces stress hormone levels like cortisol. Studies have shown that cortisol called “stress hormone” is found in lesser amounts in the bodies of those who laugh and experience higher levels of happiness. Laughter also increases endorphin levels, so that whenever you laugh, the brain receives a flurry of health-promoting hormones. Plus, the good feelings you get from laughing can last up to 24 hours.

Laughter improves blood circulation: The blood vessels have a thin layer of tissue called the endothelium. When laughing, the endothelium dilates and allows increased blood flow to the body which reduces the risk of heart problems. Laughter causes muscles and joints to flex and stretch, and promotes healthy muscle tone in places not normally strengthened by other activities. Laughter is also associated with a drop in blood pressure, an incredibly vital phenomenon for the elderly.

Shared laughter makes it easier to make connections: Social interactions contribute a lot to maintaining good health. Creating deep and personal connections with others is an important part of physical and mental health for the elderly. Therefore, it is not surprising that laughter is even more helpful when shared with others. Laughter has been shown to build relationships with others, reduce negative emotions and increase a person’s social attraction. Therefore, shared laughter with others will make it easier to build a deep and meaningful relationship.

Anat Mike (Photo: Ahuzat Tzahala PR)

Laughter relieves pain: The stream of endorphins that floods the body after a good laugh is the same stream of endorphins that increases the ability to tolerate and ignore pain. So if you laugh even when the body does not feel its best – you can find that humor makes it easier to deal with physical difficulties.

Laughter helps boost immune protection: Every time you laugh the stress hormones go down. This reduction allows cells in the immune system to function more efficiently. Also, deep breathing during a laughter attack clears the airways and promotes oxygen / carbon dioxide exchanges much more than normal breathing. Laughter with friends puts fresh air into the body, lowers stress and allows the immune system to better protect against disease and infection. All the benefits of laughter create conditions in which the body’s immune system can thrive. Better general feeling, improved good blood flow and increased oxygen consumption contribute to a healthier and stronger immune system, which helps the elderly fight off some of the common diseases that can leave them in poor health.

Laughter can improve memory: Because laughter reduces overall stress levels, it has a positive effect on the amount of stress the brain experiences. When the brain is stressed, it uses a lot of resources, but when it is exposed to a lower amount of cortisol, it gets the ability to heal itself better and thus free up space for memories.

Laughter promotes fitness: Good laughter from the abdomen causes the abdominal muscles to expand and contract – an action similar to the one that occurs when we work on them at home or in the gym. The shoulder and diaphragm muscles also enjoy light training thanks to the action of laughter. Although it may not seem like exercise laughter involves almost all of the body’s physical systems, including muscles and nerves. And when the body is involved, the elderly feel more energetic, and this will sometimes lead to more interest in its continued activation.

Laughter helps positive thinking: Laughter can ward off negative thoughts (e.g. anger and guilt), replace them with positive thoughts, and help formulate a plan for dealing with problems. As a result we value ourselves more, which makes it easier for us to overcome difficulties.

As Charlie Chaplin put it: “A day without laughter is a wasted day.”

The author is a certified gerontologist and cultural director of Ahuzat Tzahala Sheltered Housing

Source: Maariv.co.il – סגנון-לייף סטייל by www.maariv.co.il.

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