April is National Humor Month, and the whole point of designating such a month in this way is to have more people appreciate the therapeutic value of laughter and joy. Being able to share a laugh with someone can very often make you feel better, boost your morale, and lead to an improved state of well-being. It’s no coincidence that the month begins with April Fool’s Day, which has long been a day for all kinds of sanctioned pranks and jests, delivered in the spirit of good humor. In Hernando and elsewhere around the country, April will be a month where people involved with senior home care try to include a little more humor in the daily lives of their charges, so as to help ease the mind, body, and soul.
Laughter on Call
Laughter on Call is an organization started up by a woman named Dani Klein Modisett, who had been a stand-up comedienne for a time, as well as an instructor in the art of bringing humor to people in need of it. Eventually, one of those people became Ms. Modisett’s own mother, who became afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease. As a result of the disease, her mother became more and more withdrawn, despite the efforts Dani made at communicating with her and trying to keep her involved.
Then it occurred to Dani that laughter might be the best medicine for her mother, and she hired a former stand-up comedienne to have a session with her mother, and the results were nothing short of miraculous. Within the first few minutes of their meeting, Dani’s mother was laughing genuinely and was enjoying the company of her new companion tremendously. Needless to say, that one-nighter developed into a long engagement, and during all that time, Dani’s mother responded better to the laughter and joy of those sessions than to any other event or stimulus presented to her.
From this single incident, Laughter on Call was born. Dani began meeting with administrators at nursing homes and other care centers and telling them about the experience with her mother. A few trials went very well, since there are all kinds of comedians out of work and in need of paying jobs, and of course, there are even more seniors in need of a good laugh to brighten their day and improve their quality of life.
Since then, the organization has taken off like wildfire and has expanded to include training for older adults who wish to bring humor to their loved ones, some virtual and in-person comedy sessions, and even some instruction for caregivers. All these processes have had excellent success in helping seniors to be less isolated and withdrawn from society, and in bringing a little bit more joy into their lives, when they didn’t expect much to be there.
Why is laughter so effective?
It is been known for quite some time that laughter is really strong medicine and that it brings people together in ways that cause positive emotional changes and healthy physical changes in the body. It has the power to heal and to renew, and being able to laugh frequently can be extremely helpful in enhancing relationships, overcoming problems, and supporting physical and emotional health.
It is no exaggeration to say that engaging in laughter and finding the humor in life can literally add years to your life, and seniors are no exception to this rule. Enough research has been conducted to learn of a great many solid physical benefits provided by laughter. First of all, it relaxes the entire body, relieving tension and stress, and your body can stay in this relaxed condition for almost an hour afterward.
It also boosts the immune system because it decreases the volume of stress hormones while increasing the number of immune cells and antibodies which fight infection. Laughter also triggers the release of the body’s feel-good hormones, which are endorphins. Endorphins promote a greater sense of well-being for an individual and even have the power to temporarily relieve pain. Laughter can protect the heart by improving the functionality of blood vessels and increasing blood flow, thus safeguarding you against cardiovascular problems and heart attack.
One of the best benefits of laughter is that it helps to resolve a conflict and defuse anger in a very short period of time. When you’re able to see the humor in a situation and laugh at the funny side of life, you can really put problems into perspective, and it will help you to overcome confrontational incidents without retaining resentment or bitterness.
Finally, a study which was conducted in Norway discovered that people who had a strong sense of humor routinely lived longer than those who seldom laughed. The statistics were particularly striking among individuals who were battling cancer and other dread diseases. Any time you can enjoy some genuine laughter, there is an endless number of benefits which can accrue to improve and extend your life.