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Laughter Therapy for the Elder

Everyone has heard the saying “Laughter is the best medicine,” but researchers are finding that this expression holds more truth than we have ever thought possible. The benefits of laughter are being continuously uncovered, and the elderly may benefit the most from this delightful form of expression. Many therapists believe that laughter releases fear, light anger, and even boredom. The elderly especially have issues with all three of these feelings and emotions. It was Victor Borge who said, “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” This is an interesting idea for the elderly, who so often feel isolated and abandoned. Even when elderly people have little in common with each other, they can share laughter and therefore feel a sense of camaraderie. Laughter helps cause the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals. Endorphins enable one to have a sense of well being. It is true that opportunities for laughter can be limited in elder care facilities. That is why the concept of an “ElderClown” (or humor therapist) has been shown to be beneficial. ElderClowns are professionally trained performers who have been helpful in assisting people with Alzheimer’s or dementia to cope with issues of agitation. After several sessions with an ElderClown, studies have shown that these patients are better able to cope with changes such as new surroundings and increased difficulty in their communication skills. Remember another well-known saying “Laughter is good for the soul”……Well, because of its benefit to one’s over-all immune system, it is also being proven to be good for the body. For more information, go to http://ideacorkboard.wordpress.com/2011/09/23/elder-clowns-how-humor-can-benefit-the-demented/ or www.laughtertherapy.com