Seniors, Nursing Homes & Community Centers

Bring the Healing Power of Laughter to Your Residents!

When bringing LY Workshops into nursing homes, senior centers and community centers, some of the areas that residents find the most substantial benefits are: stress management, strengthened immunity, improved social life, depression relief, lower blood pressure, decreased cortisol levels (stress hormones), increased endorphines, quicker healing and recovery and increased levels happiness and general wellbeing.

Participants also find LY workshops help them in handling health challenges such heart disease, hypertension, daily aches and pains, insomnia, arthritis, diabetes and depression, many of which become more common in elderly populations. In addition to the scientific and health benefits, participants often say that after practicing Laughter Yoga, they find themselves laughing more readily and easily throughout their day. They also report feeling an increased ability to laugh and cope with challenging events as they arise in their lives, and to approach them with a more light-hearted attitude. Evolution has given us the wonderful gift of laughter, and with LY workshops we’re able to cash in on it’s benefits whenever we feel we could use it most.

To schedule a Laughter Yoga workshop for your nursing home, community center or other setting, you may contact me using this handy form or directly at 617.529.0090 or info (at) livetolaugh (dot) org.

Laughter Therapy Effective for Improving Depression and Sleep

(Source: Geriatrics Gerontology International)

“Depression has been classified as a mood disorder or “affective” disorder. Mood is defined as a powerful, sustained emotion that, in the extreme, markedly affects a person’s perception of the world and ability to adequately function in society. Mood disorders are among the most common health problems doctors see every day. Mood disorders are divided into two major categories: depressive disorders and bipolar disorders. Depression affects approximately 5 percent of the population at any given time, and about 30 percent of adults will suffer from depression over a lifetime. Women are two to three times more likely to experience depression than men.

Sleep is one of the most mysterious of all human activities. Exactly what happens during sleep is still not completely understood. One of mankind’s oldest complaints, insomnia is the chronic inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. While everyone occasionally experiences a sleepless night now and then without harm, long-term insomnia can be debilitating. Insomnia is not a disease unto itself but a condition associated with a number of different physical and emotional disorders. The incidence of insomnia is higher among people with chronic illnesses such as hyperthyroidism, kidney trouble, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Pregnancy, alcohol intake, stress, and depression are also leading causes of insomnia.

Laughter therapy, also called humor therapy, is the use of humor to promote overall health and wellness. It aims to use the natural physiological process of laughter to help relieve physical or emotional stresses or discomfort. Medical professionals have recognized that those patients who maintained a positive mental attitude and shared laughter responded better to treatment. Physiological responses to laughter include increased respiration, circulation, hormonal and digestive enzyme secretion, and a leveling of the blood pressure.

A recent study investigated the effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep in elderly adults living in a community dwelling. The study included 109 subjects aged 65 years and older.

The participants were divided into two groups with 48 subjects in the laughter therapy group and 61 subjects in the control group. The groups were compared using depression evaluations, mental health examinations and sleep quality tests. At the start of the study, there were no significant differences between the two groups on any of the evaluations. When the study ended, it was found that levels of depression and insomnia had significantly decreased in the laughter therapy group. It was also found that overall sleep quality and mental cognition had improved in the laughter therapy group. These findings suggest that laughter therapy is a useful and cost-effective treatment option to improve depression, cognition and sleep quality in elderly adults.” (Full article at NHI)

11 Ko HJ, Youn CH. Effects of laughter therapy on depression, cognition and sleep among the community-dwelling elderly. Geriatr Gerontol Int. 2011.


Why Laughter May Be the Best Pain Medicine:

Across all tests, the participants’ ability to tolerate pain jumped after laughing. On average, watching about 15 minutes of comedy in a group increased pain threshold by 10 percent. Participants tested alone showed slightly smaller increases in their pain threshold.”When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower),” the authors write in the paper.

“These results can best be explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter.” The researchers believe that the long series of exhalations that accompany true laughter cause physical exhaustion of the abdominal muscles and, in turn, trigger endorphin release. (Endorphin release is usually caused by physical activity, like exercise, or touch, like massage.) (Full article at Scientific American)

The study was published Sept. 13 in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.


Laughter Yoga versus Group Exercise Program: Controlled Depression Study in Elderly Women

BACKGROUND: Laughter Yoga founded by M. Kataria is a combination of unconditioned laughter and yogic breathing. Its effect on mental and physical aspects of healthy individuals was shown to be beneficial.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of Kataria’s Laughter Yoga and group exercise therapy in decreasing depression and increasing life satisfaction in older adult women of a cultural community of Tehran, Iran.

METHODS: Seventy depressed old women who were members of a cultural community of Tehran were chosen by Geriatric depression scale (score>10). After completion of Life Satisfaction Scale pre-test and demographic questionnaire, subjects were randomized into three groups of laughter therapy, exercise therapy, and control. Subsequently, depression post-test and life satisfaction post-test were done for all three groups. The data were analyzed using analysis of covariance and Bonferroni’s correction.

RESULTS: Sixty subjects completed the study. The analysis revealed a significant difference in decrease in depression scores of both Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy group in comparison to control group (p<0.001 and p<0.01, respectively). There was no significant difference between Laughter Yoga and exercise therapy groups. The increase in life satisfaction of Laughter Yoga group showed a significant difference in comparison with control group (p<0.001). No significant difference was found between exercise therapy and either control or Laughter Yoga group.

CONCLUSION: Our findings showed that Laughter Yoga is at least as effective as group exercise program in improvement of depression and life satisfaction of elderly depressed women.” (Full article at PubMed.gov)


Stress relief from laughter? Yes, no joke.” says the Mayo Clinic

“When it comes to relieving stress, more giggles and guffaws are just what the doctor ordered. Here’s why.

Whether you’re guiltily guffawing at an episode of “South Park” or quietly giggling at the latest New Yorker cartoon, laughing does you good. Laughter is a great form of stress relief, and that’s no joke.

Stress relief from laughter

A good sense of humor can’t cure all ailments, but data are mounting about the positive things laughter can do.

Short-term benefits

A good laugh has great short-term effects. When you start to laugh, it doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it actually induces physical changes in your body. Laughter can:

Stimulate many organs. Laughter enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.

Activate and relieve your stress response. A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling.

Soothe tension. Laughter can also stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation, both of which help reduce some of the physical symptoms of stress.

Long-term effects. Laughter isn’t just a quick pick-me-up, though. It’s also good for you over the long haul. Laughter may:

  • Improve your immune system. Negative thoughts manifest into chemical reactions that can impact your body by bringing more stress into your system and decreasing your immunity. In contrast, positive thoughts actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses.
  • Relieve pain. Laughter may ease pain by causing the body to produce its own natural painkillers. Laughter may also break the pain-spasm cycle common to some muscle disorders.
  • Increase personal satisfaction. Laughter can also make it easier to cope with difficult situations. It also helps you connect with other people.” (Full article at the Mayo Clinic)

Laughter and Cancer

For people living with cancer, it may seem strange to find humor when facing such serious issues. Yet, laughter can be helpful in ways you might not have realized or imagined.

Laughter can help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. Laughter can be a natural diversion. When you laugh, no other thought comes to mind. Laughing can also induce physical changes in the body. After laughing for only a few minutes, you may feel better for hours.

When used in addition to conventional cancer treatments, laughter therapy may help in the overall healing process.

According to some studies, laughter therapy may provide physical benefits, such as helping to:

  • Boost the immune system and circulatory system
  • Enhance oxygen intake
  • Stimulate the heart and lungs
  • Relax muscles throughout the body
  • Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
  • Ease digestion/soothes stomach aches
  • Relieve pain
  • Balance blood pressure
  • Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

Laughter therapy may also help to:

  • Improve overall attitude
  • Reduce stress/tension
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Strengthen social bonds and relationships
  • Produce a general sense of well-being”

(Full article at Cancer Treatment Centers of America)


American Cancer Society and Laughter

Overview

“Although available scientific evidence does not support claims that laughter can cure cancer or any other disease, it can reduce stress and enhance a person’s quality of life. Humor has physical effects because it can stimulate the circulatory system, immune system, and other systems in the body.” (Full article at the American Cancer Society)


Laughter and High-Risk Diabetic Patients

The Study

“A group of 20 high-risk diabetic patients with hypertension and hyperlipidemia were divided into two groups: Group C (control) and Group L (laughter). Both groups were started on standard medications for diabetes (glipizide, TZD, metformin), hypertension (ACE inhibitor or ARB)) and hyperlipidemia (statins). The researchers followed both groups for 12 months, testing their blood for the stress hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine; HDL cholesterol; inflammatory cytokines TNF-α IFN-γ and IL-6, which contribute to the acceleration of atherosclerosis and C-reactive proteins (hs-CRP), a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Group L viewed self-selected humor for 30 minutes in addition to the standard therapies described above.

Results

The patients in the laughter group (Group L) had lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels by the second month, suggesting lower stress levels. They had increased HDL (good) cholesterol. The laughter group also had lower levels of TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-6 and hs-CRP levels, indicating lower levels of inflammation. At the end of one year, the research team saw significant improvement in Group L: HDL cholesterol had risen by 26 percent in Group L (laughter), and only 3 percent in the Group C (control). Harmful C-reactive proteins decreased 66 % in the laughter group vs. 26 percent for the control group.

Conclusion

The study suggests that the addition of an adjunct therapeutic mirthful laughter Rx (a potential modulator of positive mood state) to standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome. Further studies need to be done to expand and elucidate these findings.In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope. Lifestyle choices have a significant impact on health and disease and these are choices which we and the patient exercise control relative to prevention and treatment.” (Full article at Science Daily)


⇨ Reaping the Benefits of Laughter Yoga: Depression Relief


To explore the benefits of Laughter Yoga further, please feel free to check out our Interesting Articles, Videos and Benefits pages. I look forward to helping you bring more laughter into your life soon! Drop me a line to book a workshop anytime.

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