When caring for a loved one with a long-term illness, we often get caught up in the daily routine of meals, clean up, laundry, and the cycle repeats day after day. When days run into one another, we get weary, and sometimes we can get short with those that we love.
Taking the time during the day to add some light-hearted down time not only helps your loved one feel more alive and not such a burden, it helps you to distract your mind from the more mundane tasks.
Perhaps a game of cards, or scrabble is in order. Any table games that you played before, play them now. When we engage in more light-hearted activities, laughter typically enters in.
Laughter really is good medicine!
- Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, leaving your muscles relaxed for up to 45 minutes after.
- Laughter boosts the immune system. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
- Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.
- Laughter protects the heart. Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect you against a heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.
Even if your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or Dementia, they probably still love to laugh. Even if they don't get the joke, they will laugh almost reflexively, mirroring the emotion of those around them. Mirrored laughter is just as "real" and produces the very same benefits as humor they comprehend.
It's easy to find great material on the internet through YouTube or Netflix. Start with a Google search for "best comedy movies" or "funniest videos." If you are able to leave your house, rent DVDs featuring more physical humor over dialogue. Charlie Chaplin movies or other slapstick comedies are sure to evoke some belly laughs.
By the end of the day, you’ll find not only did the day seem to go faster, you and your loved one will both be in a better mood, and the result of that is a better nights’ rest.