We’ve all seen movies with the grouchy old man who’s yelling at the neighborhood kids for being on his lawn. But the sad reality is that millions of aging in place seniors feel unhappy, unwanted and depressed. If you’re currently looking after an elderly loved one who’s always angry and never seems to smile, it can be challenging to “turn their frown upside down”.
Fortunately, there are several proven ways to introduce some humor and laughter into a senior’s life so they will feel happier, healthier and appreciated.
Why Are Some Seniors Unhappy?
When someone aged 65-and-over feels unhappy, it’s usually for one or more of these reasons:
- Chronic health problems
- Loss of a spouse or other close loved one
- Not being able to keep up their home any longer
- Financial difficulties
- Losing driving privileges
- Poor mobility
- Feeling unwanted or unneeded
- Onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s
Studies have found a correlation between one’s sense of happiness and wellbeing and their physical health. The more negative a senior’s outlook on life, the harder it is for them to fight off illnesses, reduce stress and stay socially engaged. If this currently describes your loved one, their chronic unhappiness will eventually start jeopardizing their quality of life.
The Many Benefits of Humor and Laughter
On the other hand, humor and laughter benefit seniors in so many ways, including:
- Relieves stress by reducing levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol
- Increases blood flow and circulation
- Strengthens their immune system
- Exercises the abdominal muscles and heart
- Improves memory
- Promotes social engagement with others
Now that we’ve seen how laughing more can positively influence an elderly person’s outlook on life, it’s time to look at specific ways to get them to do so.
Helping a Senior Laugh Again
Sometimes as a caregiver it just takes a little thought and creativity to make your loved one laugh. Here are some ideas that professional therapists recommend:
Get them a pet. A dog, cat or other furry companion brings instant joy to most people, including the elderly. Looking after a pet will also make your senior feel needed again.
Take them to a laughter Yoga class. Known as “Hasyayoga”, laughter Yoga is a fun and safe form of exercise even for immobile or wheelchair-bound seniors.
Dance with them. Most seniors have fond memories of dancing the night away with loved ones while listening to their favorite songs. Put some “bounce” in your senior’s step by taking them dancing or doing so at home.
Meet up with old friends. This may take some strategizing, but arrange for them to unexpectedly meet up with some old friends at a park or restaurant. Then, sit back and watch the laughs as they share some good times. If your senior is homebound, show them how to use social media to reconnect with o