Anyone whose laughed so hard their belly hurt probably agrees that laughter is the best medicine. It can help when you’re having a bad day or make a good day better.
Health experts say there are real benefits to laughter. It can boost your immune system, release endorphins (the bodies feel-good chemicals), and protect our hearts!* This is even more reason to crack up whenever you can.
When dealing with memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, there are many proven advantages to laughter whether it’s for the person with the disease or the caregivers.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s yet over 36 million people live with the disease worldwide.* Engaging ones mind with humor helps prevent the spread of Alzheimer’s. A study shows that humor therapy “…appears as effective as psychiatric drugs in reducing the agitation that often plagues those struggling with dementia.”* In other words, occupying dementia or Alzheimer’s residents with jokes, clowns, improv, etc. can significantly decrease frequent wandering or screaming that is typical of the disease. There are countless emotional stories of caretakers introducing humor to someone with Alzheimer’s life and seeing their moods drastically shift.
Caregivers need humor too. It is often difficult and exhausting to care for someone with Alzheimer’s. There is a constant need to keep an eye out for the person. It is easy to get agitated yourself. Sometimes a loved one will scream out something vulgar or random. It is okay to laugh! We are only human. The CDC says that, “87% of Alzheimer’s patients are being cared for by caregivers at home.”* This can mean taking care of a mother or father. There is stress and grief that come along with that so it is important to bring joy into a caregivers world. By maintaining a good sense of humor, one can reduce their own stress and tension.
All in all, people with Alzheimer’s thrive in a positive environment. Living with Alzheimer’s is confusing so humor can help make things a bit easier. In addition, laughter helps balance all the emotions that come along with being a caretaker.
American poet Robert Frost once said, “if we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.”