With a distinct rise in life expectancy due to advances in medical science, people
are living longer. Often seniors find themselves alone either in aged care facilities
or retirement homes where they are prone to frequent bouts of depression and/or
isolation. Laughter Yoga is the BEST medicine to keep seniors in good cheer!
Laughter Yoga the Best Medicine
Laughter Yoga is a great therapeutic alternative that combines laughter exercises with deep yogic breathing, for a complete workout of wellness. A good hearty laugh gets rid of stress, worry and depression. It touches the emotional core by alleviating feelings of loneliness and isolation, generating positive thoughts and reducing the negative strains. It is an instant stress buster, which helps to reduce the risk factors for cardiac diseases, reduces blood pressure and lowers cholesterol levels, arising due to stress. Although not all diseases can be cured, laughter brings several positive changes.
Factors Affecting Seniors and How Laughter Yoga Can Help
Retirement: The biggest stressor for seniors is a feeling of being useless or a lack of importance after retirement. It can lead to frustration, major depression and mental agony. Extended hearty laughter helps to reduce stress and generate a positive attitude. Laughing together in a group helps to boost self-esteem and overcome feelings of insecurity.
Lack of Bonding: Living in retirement homes usually means seniors are separated from long time friends and family, longing for someone close with whom they can share their emotions. Seniors who have shared Laughter Yoga experiences share a certain bond, while dissipating the feeling of loneliness, creating a feeling of closeness and community.
Physical immobility: Sedentary lifestyle, illness and lack of physical exercise cause stiffness of limbs and muscles, leads to immobility and pain and aches. Laughter exercises coupled with deep diaphragmatic breathing are simple, structured and a lot of fun. They are easy, safe, and regardless of any limitations, such as cognitive or physical, Laughter Yoga is a genuine form of physical exercise. Extended hearty laughter is known to increase muscle movement, mobility and boost the immune system by increasing disease fighting cells and proteins, and triggers release of endorphins (body's natural painkillers).
Decline of cognitive faculties: Often seniors find that their physical and mental faculties decrease. With the beginning of certain diseases like Alzheimers and Senile Dementia, the capacity to comprehend humor declines. The degeneration of the brain cells makes it difficult for many seniors to understand and organize facts, let alone humor. Simple tasks become difficult, frustration levels rise making it harder for them to laugh. Under such conditions Laughter Yoga is ideal for seniors to reap the scientifically proven benefits of laughter to improve their health and well-being, and provide an emotional bonding with other participants. A few hours of laughter every day will increase memory, thinking ability and intellectual capacity.
Physical illness: Scientific studies have proven that the reason of frequent sickness is because there is a lack of oxygen in the body cells. Laughter exercises and deep breathing help to attain good health by increasing the supply of oxygen. People in the laughter clubs with chronic pain, migraines, headaches and asthma have found attacks to become less frequent, and in some cases, to disappear completely. Many members with high blood pressure, severe spinal, neck or shoulder problems and even diabetes have found their life normalizing, eventually requiring no medication. Many members with depression, anxiety and chronic stress-related diseases have reported moving from debilitating fear and anxiety to a more positive state of mind, transforming their quality of life.
Social Laughter Clubs A Boon for the Elderly
The simple fact is for humans to be happy we need a network of healthy emotional relationships with a group of people who care about us and about whom we care. Social laughter clubs have the power to reach beyond the healing of laughter. The effective network of caring-sharing relationships is the key to a happy and healthy life.
Happiness through Emotional Networking
Sadly, for many seniors, modern life does not include a network of caring and sharing relationships. The lack of two-way emotional dialogue and relationship leaves them without emotional grounding, often resulting in feelings of isolation and loneliness. The amount of time spent with others is not what matters; it is the quality of interaction that is important. If there is lack of warmth and friendliness, it leads to anxiety and stress. To facilitate better physical and mental health, laughter clubs provide a rich social network of people who care about one another, and perhaps even more importantly, a way of getting to know new people who we care about. This provides a sense of emotional security which resists stress and depression. Laughter Yoga sessions with seniors are not just about laughter.
A smile goes a long way to establish a bond with seniors who are in need of care and empathy. It creates an ambience of belonging and generates the much needed feeling of closeness and community. Laughter Yoga sessions help them to share similar interests and instill familiarity and intimacy.
It gives them the opportunity to confide their emotions and express themselves freely.
Laughter Yoga exercises are simple, structured and entertaining. They are easy and safe, and provide a genuine form of physical exercise. They are appropriate for all, regardless of their cognitive, sensorial or motor abilities/limitations. People's participation is invited and not imposed.
The next time you walk by a senior give them a toothy smile and a giggle and I guarantee it will brighten their day. One day, that will be you.