Lighten Up Your Lifestyle: Benefits of Humor in Caregiving

Benefits of Humor in Caregiving

In the face of a serious injury, chronic illness or age-related challenges, finding humor may often be the last thing on a caregiver’s mind. Stressed or overwhelmed caregivers may even consider laughter to be inappropriate around a loved one who is suffering. However, many loved ones, their family members and health care experts have discovered life-enhancing benefits from embracing everyday humor in caregiving situations.

Polly West, Executive Director at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, an assisted senior care and memory care community in Nicholasville, KY, states, “Humor is a great tool for staying positive in the midst of a challenge. For caregivers and their loved ones, so many things are out of their control. Instead of getting frustrated, choosing to keep a healthy sense of humor helps us to accept what we can’t change and look on the bright side. If laughter truly is the best medicine, it certainly belongs in the caregiving setting!” 

Enlightening Benefits of Laughter

When trying to combat the stress, anxiety, fear or depression that often accompany caring for a loved one, laughter becomes a powerful weapon – and it’s backed up with plenty of biological and psychological evidence. According to Sherri Snelling, caregiver expert and author, multiple studies have proven the benefits of humor and laughter since the late 70s, when laughter was first recognized as a legitimate form of self-healing. Key benefits include:

  • Immune System Support – Laughing produces and activates strong antibodies that attack viruses and tumors in the body. When we undergo long periods of stress, the production of these antibodies decreases. So, laughter can truly keep us from falling ill! 
  • Cardio Exercise – One study shows that laughing for 20 seconds is just as beneficial to our lungs as three minutes on a rowing machine.
  • Reduction of Stress – Humor decreases stress and better enables us to cope with challenging situations. Subsequently, reducing stress has remarkable benefits of its own, including less inflammation (and fewer stomach pains, acid reflux, etc.), increased elasticity in blood vessels and higher levels of oxygen in the blood. 
  • Decreased Pain – Many patients with long-term or terminal illnesses report that humor works as a welcomed distraction from chronic pain. Laughter can also help our minds and bodies relax, so that we can cope with physical pain more easily.

Additionally, laughter simply feels good! It releases chemicals that create feelings of pleasure, which in turn helps us view our current situation in a more positive light. Laughing may be the key to relaxing just enough to get through a difficult caregiving moment and find new solutions to a problem.

Humorous Highlights – Proof that It’s Okay to Laugh

As a caregiver, you won’t always feel like laughing. But giving yourself permission to laugh is just as important as giving yourself permission to cry, says Amber Bauer, a staff member for the American Society of Clinical Oncology. In her article, “Finding a Reason to Laugh,” Bauer describes how laughter can help family and friends relate to a loved one with a chronic condition by easing the tension of not knowing what to say. If a humorous comment can ease this tension, visitors are free to do what they came for – offer support, encouragement and companionship.

It’s no mystery that we’re often drawn to people who make us laugh. We usually fall in love or form friendships with others who understand our sense of humor. Laughing together builds strong connections between people on which relationships can develop and grow. In regards to family caregivers, these relationships may already be quite strong; however, a healthy dose of humor now and then can make it easier to relate to your loved one when it’s time for more serious conversations.

Not only does laughing together deliver all the benefits described above but light-hearted moments can also be the highlight of you and your loved one’s day. Embrace humorous situations whenever they happen and try to add elements of humor to your caregiving regimen to lighten your loved one’s mood. Here are a few suggestions to try:

  • Watch Funny Movies Together. Marx Brothers and Charlie Chaplin films are great sources of laughter for a lover of the classics. Or, maybe your loved one prefers more modern comedies. Find movies or sitcoms that they enjoy and schedule a regular time to watch them together.
  • Find Sources of Funny Stories. Subscribe to a daily joke email list or buy a day calendar with funny comic strips. Magazines like Reader’s Digest also have sections dedicated to funny stories submitted by readers. 
  • Search YouTube. YouTube may be the largest source of funny videos available. You can search for anything from episodes of I Love Lucy to silly cat videos to watch together.
  • Hang Out with Funny Friends. Do you know someone with a great sense of humor? Invite them over for lunch with you and your loved one. Spend time chatting together and a funny story is sure to come up!

Relationship-Based Care for Seniors

“At Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, residents, staff and family members treat each other as best friends, so laughter and humor are a natural part of each day,” shares West. “Our philosophy of delivering relationship-based care, focusing on who each resident is – their interests, passions and senses of humor – allows us to help everyone who enters our community live life to the fullest. 

“If you would like to learn more about caregiving techniques or the services we provide at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods, contact us today for more information.”

Live Life to the Fullest at Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods

Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods is a Christian Care Community offering assisted senior care, memory care and adult day services. Located in Brannon Crossing, one of central Kentucky’s most desirable areas, Bridgepointe was designed to help families grow closer as they grow older.

At Bridgepointe, residents enjoy the privacy and dignity of living in their own apartment as well as the peace of mind that comes from the support and assistance of a special team of caregivers. In short, we help our residents live life to its fullest. 

Our community is designed to promote activity, interaction, socialization and enjoyment. We offer a variety of engaging activities daily, from yoga and tai chi to gardening and arts and crafts. At Bridgepointe, there’s never a dull moment and always something to do!

Discover a rich and fulfilling lifestyle combined with personalized care and support delivered by a team of experienced professionals … all within a secure, elegantly appointed community. 

We invite you to visit today and discover how Bridgepointe at Ashgrove Woods can change your life for the better!

To learn more, contact us today!