Phoenix Caregiver Coach Prescribes LaughterPosted on August 25, 2014 by ElderCare Resources in Alzheimers Care, Blog, Caregiver Education, Caregiving, Dementia Care
Take time to laugh; it really helps
By: Regina Thibideau
Dear Caregiver Coach: I feel as if every day is drudgery.
I have a very compact routine with my loved one who needs my attention 24/7.
I need something more uplifting and wonder what I might do to help me? — Bummed out
Dear Bummed: One of the best ways to reduce stress and feel better about your caregiver role is to laugh.
Laughter has been shown to improve both physical and emotional health.
At the end of our weekly Sun City Caregivers Support Group, one of our caregivers always has a joke ready to tell us.
We always leave the meeting with a smile on our faces.
Being a 24/7 family caregiver or even a caregiver at a distance, the responsibility is awesome.
If you are someone with a long-term disease, laughter can ease that burden too.
Can’t see the humor? Try watching a funny movie (I always loved Cary Grant in “Arsenic and Old Lace”), or an all-day Three Stooges marathon.
How about getting joke books out of the library and reading them out loud or just doing some “laugh” exercises?
Research has shown that just the physical act of making ourselves guffaw out loud has a positive effect on our immune system.
As the experts on Agingcare.com share:
- Blood flow. Laughter causes the tissue that forms the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate or expand in order to increase blood flow. (University of Maryland School of Medicine).
- Immune response.
- Humor raises the level of infection-fighting antibodies and immune cells. (Robert Provine, professor of psychology, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation).
- Blood pressure. Laughter lowers blood pressure just as much as cutting salt. (Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine).
- Pain relief. Ten minutes of laughing can allow up to two hours of pain relief. In a study of patients in a rehabilitation center, 74 percent agreed with the statement, “sometimes, laughter works as well as a pain pill.” (New England Journal of Medicine).
- Aerobic exercise. One minute of laughter is equal to 10 minutes on the rowing machine. (Dr. William Fry, Stanford University)
Taking time to laugh is good for you — and as we know — a caregiver’s health and mood is extremely important — it effects two people!
So, the next time you see yourself in a mirror, make sure you smile and take the time to truly laugh.
Regina Thibideau has been a family and spousal caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s.