“Senior’s Got Humor”: The Psychological effects of laughter can have an impact on a senior’s overall well-being

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If you want to improve someone’s mood, make them laugh! We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, yet laughter is indeed the best medicine for seniors. While laughter is a normal response to humor, today, doctors have added laughter to their prescriptions and have incorporated Laughter Therapy in their practices.


Laughter Therapy, also known as “Yoga Therapy,” was first clinically studied and introduced by Dr. Madan Kataria, also known as the “Laughter Guru.” Laughter Therapy focuses on helping clients laugh. It usually begins with client-group sessions where a laughter therapist’s objective is to facilitate laughter more easily.


These sessions are offered now for both individuals and groups, and it has been a type of therapy where licensed providers use humor to help clients relieve pain, stress and improve their client’s health. 


Dr. S Lee Berk is a medical researcher, Associate Dean, and Professor at the School of Allied Health. His research studies have been focused on the immune effects of positive emotions.  Dr. Berk’s 1970-1989 laughter therapy research has shown how laughter causes cortisol, known as stress hormones, to shut down and set off the hormone dopamine production, also known as the “feel-good” hormone. According to his research, high levels of dopamine caused by laughter reduces the potential of severe depression on some patients. 


Furthermore, the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine’s research has shown that laughter’s effects have the power to increase NK cells, also known as white cells. White cells are critical because they help prevent the replication of viruses in the immune system. 


Therapeutic Laughter also increases pain tolerance in patients. Six different simulated self-induced laughter studies showed participants gained a high tolerance to pain after all six experiments were conducted. Simulated self-induced therapeutic laughter has proved to have numerous psychological benefits. 


While laughter therapy is recommended for everyone, research shows how Therapeutic Laughter has specific psychological health benefits that can benefit seniors. 30min-60min, once a week prescribed Laughter Therapy can:


  1. Build trust between patients and providers. When a provider makes a relatable joke, and the client gets it and is able to relate, this immediate connection builds a trust bond.

  2. Improve communication. Simulated Induced-humor helps clients relax, allowing them to let their guards down. The use of appropriate jokes is often utilized as transitions that open the door to more serious conversation topics with clients that tend to be quiet and self-reserved.

  3. Encourages lifestyle changes. Laughter produced by humor increases the overall happiness of clients and the clients’ positive moods. This positive atmosphere encourages and motivates them to exercise more, improving physical activity to sustain a healthy lifestyle.

  4. Increases a client’s pain tolerance and reduces their anxiety levels. Clients who watch 30 min of funny-relatable content have gained pain tolerance, which helps them manage chronic pain.

  5. Contribute to the immune system’s overall functionality. Laughter increases white cells’ production, dopamine, and cortisol hormones needed for a healthy and functioning immune system. 


In conclusion, research shows us that Laughter Therapy has significant psychological benefits, and it has no side effects. Laughter is preventive medicine that contributes to a healthier, happier, and more sustainable quality of life for seniors. 


In the era of social distancing, social bonding is needed more than ever. Today, social bonding can be achieved through frequent laughter. Laughter serves as an immune system and mood booster for seniors seeking to improve their overall health. Laughter always brings out the best in people. 


Here at GYC Senior Care, our seniors’ well-being is a priority. Our objective is to lead with a smile and induce a good dose of laughter to ensure our GYC senior family connection and social interactions are constantly nurtured and sustained!!


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



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


“The Laughter Prescription: A Tool for Lifestyle Medicine.”


“You Asked: Does Laughing Have Real Health Benefits?”




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