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Senior Health: Best Benefits of Laughter

It’s often said that laughter is the best medicine. According to a growing body of research, that’s truer than anyone may have realized. Here are some health benefits your senior loved one can enjoy by finding the humor in life.

1. Acts as a natural painkiller

Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, which are responsible for that “feel-good” effect. Endorphins are natural painkillers. According to a 2011 study conducted by Dr. Robin Dunbar and a team of researchers, laughter really does increase resistance to pain while simply feeling good in a group setting does not.

2. Reduces stress hormones

A 2006 study found that mirthful laughter increases protective hormones. According to a more recent study read by Boca Raton senior care professionals, even anticipating laughter can reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body. Anticipating laughter reduces the levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and dopac by 38 percent to 70 percent. Chronically high levels of these hormones weaken the immune system over time.

3. Reduces blood pressure

Laughter is good for heart health in general. Numerous studies have found that laughter reduces blood pressure significantly. While the long-term effects of laughter on blood pressure aren’t yet known, middle-aged and elderly people participating in a recent study had their blood pressure go down an average of 6 mmHg immediately after laughing.

4. Burns calories

Surprisingly, laughter can even burn excess calories while supporting heart health. A study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that laughing boosts heart rate and calorie burning by up to 20 percent. Laughing for only 15 minutes a day burns up to 40 calories, which is enough to shed 4 pounds a year.

5. Boosts the immune system

Laughter works to strengthen the immune system in two ways. Chronic stress is linked with a weakened immune system. Along with dramatically reducing stress hormones circulating in the blood, laughter prompts the release of neuropeptides, which fight stress.

6. Fights depression and isolation

Laughter is believed to be an evolutionary trait designed to bring humans closer together. Laughter is believed to boost mood through shared experiences and creating a sense of social cohesion, according to a study of depressed senior citizens. Laughter works to counter feelings of alienation and isolation that may lead to depression.

Learn more about senior health from the dedicated staff at Home Care Assistance. We utilize our proprietary Balanced Care Method in all of our care services, including part-time, live-in, dementia, and Alzheimer’s care in Boca Raton. BCM promotes mental, emotional, and physical health, helping seniors maintain overall wellbeing in the comfort of home. Give us a call today at (561) 826.9282 and speak with a friendly Care Manager to learn more.