Laughing out loud

It is no secret that being a caregiver is very stressful on those individuals in such a role. There are many suggestions on how to decrease caregiver stress which include respite, exercise and support groups. But the best one I have read a lot about lately is humor.

Laugh therapy is a real thing and it works. Studies show that laughter reduces your blood pressure, increases your immune system, increases your blood flow and can help with pain relief and tension. It can also help you deal with even the saddest and hardest situations, including caregiver stress.

You may be thinking that most days you feel like crying, not laughing. But ultimately the choice is yours and how you choose to react to a situation is totally up to you. And just because you laugh does not mean you don’t care. Most eldercare professionals say it is OK and even helpful to laugh at those funny moments that happen during caregiving such as unprompted remarks including swear words and other antics of an elderly parent. Experts say that when you laugh during these times you aren’t laughing at the person, you are laughing at the moment because it was funny. 

You can also practice laughing even when you don’t feel like it. To do this you could laugh out loud for no reason until you actually start to laugh, or even if you aren’t laughing for real, your body still reaps the benefits. Experts say that your body cannot tell the difference between real laughter and fake laughter. Laughing is also contagious and so laugh therapy is often suggested in the work environment or other stressful environments. So just for fun, go ahead and try it one evening while having dinner with your family…I guarantee you’ll all enjoy it!

Kristi Vaughn, LSW

I am a Licensed Social Worker and owner of Adult Comfort Care: A Person Centered in-home assisted living resource for seniors and their families.

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Volume 4, Issue 22, Posted 7:33 PM, 10.30.2012