As the joint family structure crumbles and youngsters steer away from parents, older adults, particularly in the West, find themselves alone either in aged care facilities or old-age homes. They are prone to frequent bouts of depression that often leads to a debilitating condition. About 80% of older adults have one chronic condition, and 50% have at least two.

Reliable and sustainable therapeutic approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga are a sound form of complementary medicine for seniors that can help keep them in good health and good cheer. Its exercises are low-impact, well tolerated, and this unique approach offers a complete methodology that is easily adaptable to all levels of cognitive, sensory and motor abilities. Best of all: It’s fun! People’s participation is invited and not imposed.

At the beginning, I felt silly, but then I forgot about my pain. You look around and see everybody laughing and smiling. It’s a lot of fun.Millie Mund, suffers from osteoporosis, arthritis and circulatory problems

Factors Affecting Seniors and How Therapeutic Laughter Can Help

Decline of cognitive faculties Faced with age-related troubles, seniors find that their physical and mental faculties decrease. The degeneration of the brain cells makes it difficult for many seniors to understand and organize facts, let alone humor. Simple tasks become difficult, frustration levels rise making it harder for them to laugh. Approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga that do not rely on humor are ideal for seniors to help them reap the many benefits of laughter to improve their health and wellbeing because there is very little to understand. A minimum of cognitive skills are required. As little as one hour of practice per week (more is of course better) helps to increase memory, thinking ability and intellectual capacity. People with senile dementia and the onset of Alzheimer’s show remarkable improvement. Read more.

Isolation Seniors are always in need of human contact. They may be surrounded by like-minded peers, but often still miss the bonding of a family and someone close with whom they can share their emotions. Laughter can help because laughing together can greatly improve cooperation and empathy between people of different cultural backgrounds. It fosters better communication, which leads to a less confrontational approach in tense situations and a change from individual competitiveness to team cooperation. Voluntary simulated laughter in particular is most beneficial for very socially and culturally diverse groups thanks to its universal and inclusive nature, because it means that they can all join in and develop a sense of belonging. Therapeutic approaches to laughter such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga can give seniors that much needed feeling of closeness and fraternity.

Physical illness We now know that a big reason for frequent sickness is due to  a lack of oxygen in the body cells. Therapeutic methodologies such as Laughter Wellness and Laughter Yoga help people to laugh comfortably for extended periods of time as a form of elective exercise, significantly increasing their supply of oxygen in the process. Laughter practitioners of all ages with chronic pain, migraines, headaches and asthma have found attacks to become less frequent. Many people with high blood pressure, severe spinal, neck or shoulder problems and even diabetes have found their life normalizing. Many people with depression, anxiety and chronic stress related diseases have reported moving from debilitating fear and anxiety to a more positive state of mind, transforming their quality of life. Read more.

Physical immobility A sedentary lifestyle, illness and lack of physical exercise cause stiffness of limbs and muscles, and lead to immobility and pain and aches. Physical fitness stemming from laughter is a benefit known to few. When you laugh, all your body systems are affected in a positive manner. It is particularly important for seniors as well as bedridden or wheelchair-bound people. Read more.

Stress and Depression A big stressor for seniors is a feeling of being useless after retirement. It can lead to major depression and mental agony. Lack of importance creates frustration and many a times proves extremely detrimental to physical and mental health. Laughter helps to reduce stress and generate a positive attitude. Laughing together in a group also helps to boost self-esteem and overcome feelings of insecurity. (Read more.)

Relevant Studies

This article includes valuable extra resources but you first need to register to the LOU Library to access them. Doing so is free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

(Refresh this page when you come back after signing up to display all of its content.)

 Experience and learn with leading experts

We are leading experts in therapeutic laughter with over a decade of hands-on experience teaching on 4 continents and offer keynotes, seminars, workshops and specialist trainings worldwide! Contact us for more information.

Learn how to share joy and laughter with others! Here is the first step