This blog is about an experience I recently had where, for the first time in my 11 years full time laughter career, 911 had to be called, morphine administered, and one of my laughter club participant sent to hospital.

Here is the context.

I have been leading a weekly laughter club in my community since 2005. The first 10 years took place in two different locations where we could move around and engage in a variety of dynamic (but low-impact) exercises. Here is a visual of what a typical laughter session looked like then:

It all changed earlier on this year when the activity director of a local retirement community  insisted we move to their location, which we did.

Our laughter sessions are still delightful, except now the average age is older, the class rhythm is much slower and it all takes place seated as several participants have poor balance. Here is a glimpse of the kind of exercises we practice:

Are there any risks? Of course not, unless you choose to believe that happiness is an infectious disease that needs to be medicated.

And yet: It all happened right AFTER the class had ended. One of our elderly participant stood up and walked just about 10 feet without her walker to go get a glass of water. Coming back she lost her balance, fell on her side, and immediately started to writhe in agony. 5 members of staff arrived within 2 minutes, the paramedics were there within 10. By then she was singing childhood songs to us (we all remained very calm and were very supportive), yet could not be put on a stretcher without experiencing intense pain so they gave her a shot of morphine and took her into the sunset to the nearest hospital, and that’s the end of my story.

Morality: Be extra careful with frail seniors at all times, and especially AFTER your laughter sessions if they use a walker. I trusted she would be fine when I saw her take off without hers (who am I to order a 98 year old to use her walker?) and that was poor judgement. When she comes back (I hope she did not break her hip) I will bring water directly to her at the end of our laughter sessions. Consider doing the same!

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