My purpose in writing this blog is to share my adventures and progress toward the goal of every adult day care center, assisted living, memory care and long-term care facility in the world to regularly practice Laughter Yoga. In fact, this is the mission of The Come to Life Project. If you have worked with seniors, especially those with dementia, then you too have seen individuals, who seem quite withdrawn and unhappy, literally come to life.
This blog is meant to be a forum for sharing your personal adventures as well as mine. We'll cover topics ranging from taking care of yourself first, professional, volunteer or professional volunteer, helpful tips, like what to do when grandma flips you off during Laughter Greetings, and more. Let's work together, and share our experience, but let there be no unnecessary criticism of one another. You can't argue with someone's experience, and all ideas are worth considering. Let's agree to take what we like and leave the rest.
One of my regular classes is a weekly Laughter Yoga session in an Adult Day Care program. Seniors with memory loss and often mental illness as well as other vulnerable adults live in their own homes or lovely group homes of 6 or fewer people in lakeside suburban neighborhoods. Then, during the day, they come to the center for meals, classes, crafts and fellowship. This program has been in existence for over 25 years. It is incredibly innovative, and I hope these programs will continue to flourish. Seniors are able to get the care they need, and prolong or possibly avoid the need long-term care in a nursing home, which seems to be a goal of most seniors.
Laughter Yoga is, by far, their favorite program. It is the only class that is attended by the entire group 30 or so with staff support. They are at differing levels of ability, but with a bit of assistance, everyone laughs and moves their arms to breathe. They don't generally remember last week's class, but they do remember, Very Good, Very Good - Yay! You should hear them tell Gibberish Jokes! They are scared, but they do it anyway. They beam with pride when their joke goes over big!
People often ask me how I find jobs. I was referred to this organization because I led a free Laughter Yoga seminar at a local senior community center. I told them my story of healing through Laughter Yoga, and about my passion for leading classes with people who have memory loss, even though none of them had memory loss. After the class, I invited them to our weekly Laughter Club. A woman, who attended the seminar, showed up. She asked me more about my approach. I shared my enthusiasm and a bit more about my story, and then she introduced me to the director of the Adult Day Care. Experience, passion and clear explanation of purpose are the keys. The right doors open.
When you work with vulnerable adults, you will go through an extensive interview process that will take time. Expect to be thoroughly background checked by each center. You'll need good references. However, once you jump through the appropriate hoops, you're in because Laughter Yoga sells itself. In an environment that is pleasant, but generally without belly laughs, a Laughter Yoga is a firecracker! I am greeted like a rock star. These folks don't remember who I am or what I do, but they remember that we have fun. They also remember, Very Good, Very Good - Yay!