Non-Pharmaceutical Pain Management Strategies for Seniors

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Pain can be a persistent and predictable condition for aging seniors. Pain tends to increase with chronic illnesses such as arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and other cardiovascular and neurologic conditions. 


Managing pain becomes a way of life for seniors. They know the pain that comes with aging, and they often need pain management strategies that contribute to having a better quality of life while coping with the grief of aging. Pain medication helps seniors with pain management, yet non-pharmaceutical alternatives such as laughter are beneficial and optional pain management strategies. 


Endorphin is an effect of laughter and a non-pharmaceutical painkiller produced by Humor.  Humor is a beneficial pain management strategy that can help seniors manage pain. While laughter is known to help relieve stress, years of research demonstrate how the effects of laughter help seniors with pain tolerance. 


Endorphin is a natural painkiller that helps with pain control in the body. The body produces endorphins, which, when released and sent to the brain, endorphins have a “morphine-like effect,” helping with gain pain tolerance.


30min-60min, once a week of intentional laughter, can help seniors manage pain caused by aging. 


Some helpful and straightforward non-pharmaceutical pain management strategies include:

  1. Ten minutes of laughter can give seniors anesthetic effects. 
  2. Intentional laughter. 30min-60min, once a week, prescribed laughter  can provide about two hours of “pain-free sleep.”
  3. “Laughter Yoga” also “Yoga Therapy” provides numerous non-pharmaceutical strategies for pain management. 


In 1995, Dr. Madan Kataria began Social Laughter Clubs. These clubs started with a small number of people. The session made clients laugh by using laughter techniques and yoga breathing exercises. Dr. Kataria used techniques such as one-on-one minute act out laughter. This technique teaches clients how to laugh for no reason, and it does not rely on Humor. This approach is called the Breakthrough System of Laughter. 


 Laughter Yoga therapist providers use a combination of Humor such as funny jokes, comedy, and the Breakthrough System of Laughter to help clients relieve pain, stress and to improve their client’s health. 


30min-60min, daily or once a week of Laughter Yoga, can help seniors manage pain caused by aging. Some simple pain management techniques used by Licensed Laughter Yoga Therapist include:  

  1. Funny Stories & Jokes. Therapists use funny stories told in conversion or by having clients watch or listen to funny videos/films. 
  2. Stage Performances. Physicians use video, audio, or live comedy performances to stimulate laughter on patients.
  3.  Laughter Clubs. People can join small size groups – laughing clubs to come together to help each other laugh. 
  4. Caring Networks. Members come together to care and exercise regular laughter in a group. Close relationships are formed and maintained.
  5. Laugh Alone Laughter Yoga. Laughing alone is a type of laughing technique that encourages people to smile in front of the mirror at home. 


While all of these strategies and laughter techniques are recommended for seniors, it is vital to keep some things to keep in mind. Before using these techniques to make your loved ones laugh, discuss these options with your senior care physician and nurses. Check out our last article on the Psychological effects of laughter on a senior’s overall well-being. 


Our GYC physician senior care family understands the benefits of laughter and can help you learn more about these non-pharmaceutical pain management strategies. 


At GYC, we engage our seniors in regular virtual-small group activities that entertain them and make them laugh. Our senior care physicians’ family encourages all of our seniors to practice social distancing during movie nights gathering, ensuring relatable films full of Humor.  


In conclusion, the effect of laughter has multiple health benefits that can benefit your loved one overall well-being. 30min-60min, one a week, laughter produces endorphins giving the body a “morphine-like effect,” helping the body become more tolerant of pain. And only ten minutes of daily laughter can provide hours of free pain sleep.


Our GYC physicians and nurses senior care family are available to help you learn more in detail about: 


  1. The Different types of pain your loved may be experiencing.
  2. Guide you to select appropriate content selection of jokes, funny stories, and comedy performances that your loved one may prefer.
  3. Select accessible– existing virtual Laughter Clubs and Caring Networks available to your loved one right now.


GYC Senior Care exists to serve! Learn more at www.gycseniorcare.com or call (847) 410-2126



“Humor Therapy: Relieving Chronic Pain and Enhancing Happiness for Older Adults”



“No laughing matter: Laughter is good psychiatric medicine.”



“Bringing Health & Happiness In Your Life: Laughter Yoga-Basic Learning Workshop”


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