By guest writer: Angie Best

                                                     “I’m so old, they’ve canceled my blood type.” –Bob Hope

There’s a reason why people keep saying laughter is the best medicine—it’s true! Laughing can improve your mood, relax your entire body, guard your heart, boost your immune system, and trigger the release of endorphins that can actually minimize pain and make you feel happier. As a caregiver, sharing a joke with your client can make you both feel better.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

An 83-year-old woman was driving to the grocery store when she noticed flashing red and blue lights in her rearview mirror. She pulled her car over. When the officer approached her, he immediately asked for her license and registration.

“Ma’am,” he said, “Are you aware that I clocked you going 54 miles per hour in a 35 mile per hour zone?”

“I’m sorry, officer,” came the woman’s reply, “but I had to get to the store before I forgot where I was going!”

Exercise your brain.

When you are actively listening to a joke, your brain is getting a real workout. As you process the things you hear, learning centers in your brain become very active. Your brain also works diligently to understand the punch line that’s coming. Just like Sudoku puzzles and brainteasers, jokes are great for your mental health.

Get high—legally.

The best thing you can do the next time you find yourself in a bad mood is laugh. Even if you don’t feel like laughing, you’ll be better off if you do. Maybe just practice smiling at first. Eventually you’ll be prepared to revel in a belly-busting laugh.
Laughing starts a chemical chain reaction in your body. The reaction causes instant mood improvement as your brain starts letting loose a nifty little chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a natural opiate that makes you feel nice and happy when it’s released into your system.
Your Rx for Better Health:

Follow these simple dosing instructions for laughter:
• Chase away the blues with a daily dose. Skipping doses is bad for your health.
• Go to bed happy. When watching TV or reading before bed, opt for something humorous and light. Stressfully, heavy or negative entertainment can mean stressful sleep.
• When someone gets crabby, use humor to lighten up the situation.
• Get a double dose of humor whenever possible. Watch funny TV shows and movies with a friend.
Angie Best-Boss is a freelance health and wellness writer. She blogs about aging, caregiving, healthy living, end of life planning, and other topics for Boomers at www.funeralwise.com.


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