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Laughter May Be the Best Medicine for Senior Health

January 18th, 2017

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As individuals age, life tends to be more serious. There are fewer opportunities for the fun and laughter that filled childhoods, and this could have serious impacts on health. Dr. Jean-Paul Bell of Australia’s Arts Health Institute believed humor could serve as a strong treatment for chronic conditions including cancer, Parkinson’s, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. In Dr. Bell’s study, he brought comedians and clowns to visit 36 long-term care homes in Australia over a 12-week timeframe. He hoped to study the impact of live comedy on patients. The troupe performed humorous skits, played games with patients, and told them jokes. During and after the program for 26 weeks, nursing home staff reported happier patients and a decrease in aggressive behaviors. Similar therapy can be arranged for home health care patients and their caregivers and has five main health benefits.

  1. The diaphragm and abdominal muscles get a workout which is especially helpful to those suffering from asthma or bronchitis.
  2. Laughter increases the levels of dopamine and other stress fighting chemicals in the body naturally reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. The stress hormone (cortisol) levels also decrease resulting in less pain and inflammation throughout the body.
  3. The act of laughing combines a moderate increase in heart rate with improved circulation and oxygen intake to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  4. Laughter releases endorphins that increase feelings of happiness and contentment and reduce the perception of physical pain.
  5. Finally, laughter triggers the release of T-cells and salivary immunoglobulin A to stimulate the immune system.

These five benefits can greatly improve the quality of life for home health care patients and their caregivers and can apply to other friends and family struggling with the responsibility of full-time care. Dr. Bell’s study shows that laughter offers amazing health and wellness benefits, but sometimes we still need some extra help. To find out how the Orlando home health care experts, BrightStar Care, can help you and your loved ones, call BrightStar Care at 1-866-618-7827 for a complimentary in-home assessment.

Topics: General Health