Everyone agrees that Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are not funny, and there are serious implications to that diagnosis. But let’s face it, funny moments absolutely happen when you are caring for a senior citizen. One of the best things you can do for your own mental health, and the mental health of your loved one, is to learn to embrace humor and laughter in your life. In fact, humor is one of the ways to feel that you have a sense of power over what is happening that is out of your control. There is no need to feel guilty if you find yourself laughing, even on a bad day. Here’s why.
- Positivity keeps your focus in the right place:
It is easy to think life is all gloom and doom if you deal with dementia everyday. But even if you are caring for an senior with a chronic illness or who is in declining health, their world doesn’t have to look gray and hopeless all the time. It might sound a little backward, but these are the occasions when a humor is sorely needed. Being sad and angry won’t change the medical situation or make your loved one’s existence more fulfilling. Therefore why not try a different route? Being creative, finding and pointing out funny moments, and looking on the positive side of life does wonders for day to day health and wellness.
- Laughing helps us process difficult emotions: Humor and laughter is a very positive way of coping with the challenging emotions that are inherent in aging – as well as caregiving. In recent studies, more than 75% of cancer patients, as well as those facing other terminal illnesses, reported that being able to keep their sense of humor was essential to their treatment. In fact, it ranked similarly to being pain free! That should put the importance of laughter in perspective.
- you are not being mean, insensitive or disrespectful: One compelling reason why caregivers stay away from humor in their daily life is that they feel guilty about seeming insensitive. The reality is that letting yourself laugh and encouraging laughter in your senior loved one is one of the best things you can do. you aren’t laughing at them. You’re laughing together at a ridiculous, funny or ironic situation. Many caregivers find that once they bring joy back into the equation, the senior will laugh even harder and longer than they do.Still, it is not realistic to expect that any caregiver or senior adult will feel like laughing all the time. But by making it known that laughter is welcome and encouraged, giving yourself permission to notice funny things eases the burden and makes existence more positive for everyone involved.
If you are a caregiver for a senior dealing with dementia or a long-term illness, we understand that it can be difficult and days can seem “heavy.” If you need help, be sure to ask for assistance from family or friends. You also may wish to consider that it may be time to consider the compassionate and professional option of assisted living or memory care.
At A Banyan Residence, we are committed to the totality of the health and well being of your senior loved one. Through a full schedule of activities which encourage enrichment and engagement, we make sure to keep your loved one happy, fulfilled and laughing.