Had a good laugh lately? Laughter connects people, eases trouble and makes the day brighter. It releases stress, activates learning and supports memory. In short, laughter is good for your brain. At Neighbors Who Care, volunteers treat people with respect and dignity and enjoy a good laugh.
Why is laughter so beneficial?
Laughter triggers feel-good chemicals. Bursting into laughter stimulates endorphins. This releases dopamine in the brain where it promotes feelings of pleasure and well-being and even relieves pain. At Neighbors Who Care, we promote feelings of pleasure and well-being.
Laughter helps learning. According to research from the University College London, when people try to understand jokes, it activates parts of the brain important to learning and understanding. At Neighbors Who Care, we are patient when you don’t get the joke right away.
Laughter improves short-term memory. A research study at Loma Linda University in California found that older adults who watched 20 minutes of funny videos prior to memory recall tests did significantly better than adults who were asked to wait quietly. Researchers say laughter reduces stress levels, and when stress is lowered, memory improves. So, making time to laugh may be especially helpful for older adults who are experiencing memory loss. At Neighbors Who Care, we like a good laugh while arriving early for an appointment.
Laughter engages the whole brain. Laughter sustains high-amplitude gamma waves throughout the entire brain. It provides the brain with a workout that promotes clear thinking, focus and thought integration. Brain MRI studies show that laughter has brain effects similar to meditation. At Neighbors Who Care, we encourage low impact exercise and high impact humor.
So, find time to laugh each day. It is good for your brain and your health!
Live life to the fullest and share the experience as much as you can
As an adult, with children who will one day be my caregiver (or maybe not), I think about things I can avoid as a care receiver. I have begun a journal of the things I want my children, family and friends to have to remember me by (or maybe not). I want them to know that I don’t especially like macaroni and cheese, unless it has peas and hotdogs in it. I use moisturizer every day after my shower. I like red nail polish on my toenails, orange shades of lipstick and brown/black mascara. Don’t be afraid to offer me a glass of wine or a cocktail–I’ll enjoy it.
I won’t leave a guilt trip on anyone who does not want my great grandmother’s, mother’s furniture or clock. I have enjoyed them, but kids these days like industrial, minimalism or something like that. If they do want something sentimental, I will put masking tape with their name on it, just like my mother did.
I have promised to not hold a grudge or expect too much from anyone. I will forgive and not mention if I remember. I will share the things that make me happy and make me smile, but I won’t harp on them. I hear of families torn apart by misunderstandings, grudges, and differences of opinions over religion, politics, and money. I seem to remember my mother telling me we just don’t discuss such things. (Of course, we never talked about sex). I know even though I don’t always agree with my family, they probably know it. I have made sure I have my Will, Power of Attorney, Medical Power of Attorney, and any other paper work finished. I am not concerned about when I’m gone as much as before I get there.
If going to a music program or creating art is offered in my community, I want to be there. Even if I don’t remember it, can’t hear it or can’t see it. It would be nice to know whoever took me might have enjoyed the experience.
When a family has shared what they would like or do like in their life, hopefully those things aren’t forgotten or ignored. Money should never be an issue. There is always a way. And if there is no family to carry on, there will always be volunteers who will care. We are never alone.