Find Your Caregiving Funny Bone for Better Heart Health

July 31, 2009 at 2:58 am 2 comments

Caregiving may seem like serious work, but as I heard Dr.Christine Northrup say in her book, The Power of Joy, “If anything is worth taking serious, then it’s certainly worth laughing about!” Even if your spouse or parent has Alzheimer’s, (or you do), life isn’t all grim, and the foibles and chaos that comes your way makes great fodder for chuckles, stories, and the occasional belly laugh.

Turns out, laughing is now doctor’s orders.

Laughter’s Effect on The Body:

  • Laughter increases blood flow
  • Laughter can lower blood pressure and cause blood vessels to relax
  • Relaxed blood vessels puts less strain on your heart
  • Laughter can help boost your levels of nitric oxide, which in turn opens your vessels
  • Laughter and being in a good mood helps to regulate your hormones

Dr. Roizen, author of Real Age states that laughing often can help you look and feel 8 years younger.

But let’s face it, caregivers don’t fall out of bed giggling.

 There’s stress in just facing your day. My mother had my entire day planned out before my feet ever hit the floor. She may have had Parkinson’s, and later Alzheimer’s, but she had a “needs” list two miles long–meds, doctor appointments,  “fake emergencies.” Then there was all the things she didn’t instigate–falls, feelings of paranoia (from the Alzheimer’s) and confusion. Is it really possible to keep your sense of humor in the midst of all this? Yes–and it’s crucial! 

Find Your Caregiving Funny Bone:

  • Develop a quirky, “dark” sense of humor. Instead of that grumpy nurse getting on your last nerve, find her amuzing, imitate her when you get to the car. I’m not trying to be mean here, but comedy is often a bit twisted. It’s better than chewing her head off or griping about it all the rest of the day.
  • Start collecting funny movies. DVD’s have really come down in price, and old(er) movies cost as little as five dollars. You can get everything from old I Love Lucy reruns, Abbott and Costello, Jack Benny (your parent or grandparent will really like these–to movies you loved from the 80s, 90s, or TV shows such as Seinfeld. You can find used copies, or turn in some you don’t watch anymore. Even when you don’t feel like laughing, put on a funny DVD–instead of watching the news.
  • Visit www.Jokes.com, or check out the boards at www.Alz.org. There’s a humor section where caregivers tells jokes, and even share their funny/crazy adventures. Or check out YouTube. Type in humor and pets, humor and sports, and before long, you’ll be chuckling in front of your monitor.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. In fact, plan to call or meet the funniest person you know–in the next month–for coffee, or a phone chat. You’ll be glad you did. If you have a real grump in your life, don’t call them first thing in morning! That’s the worst way to start your day. Life is tough, but lots of people have adapted and have figured out how to spin the bad into good. Those are the relationships you want to encourage.
  • Make sure your home is well-lighted and that you get outside every day for at least ten minutes. The opposite of laughter is depression, and it’s too easy for caregivers to get a mild (or full-blown) case of depression. Many elders like dark houses, but it’s not healthy for you. Open the curtains, turn on the ceiling fans for circulation, and on cooler days (or warmer in the winter), open your windows . Nature is healing and uplifting.
  • Go for a walk. More and more research is indicating that many people are Vitamin D deficient because they’re simply not getting enough sun. Ten minutes is perfect. That’s just a short stroll. Take your loved one on a short walk, or at least get them out on the porch. Elders and young children suffer the highest rates of Vitamin D deficiency.
  • Don’t take life so serious! Yeah, life is tough, so lighten up! Sometimes you just have to break loose. Laugh til you cry. Cry til you laugh. Do everything you can to stay above the sorrow, the apathy, and the heartbreak. Fight. Fight hard. Fight not only for yourself, but for all those who love you.

Sometimes you have to jump-start your laughter. Don’t wait to put the funny movie in, call your friend, or tell a joke. Do it because you don’t feel like it–yet. The old fake it ’til you make it means…you’ll make it.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving, Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elizabeth  |  August 1, 2009 at 4:12 am

    Humor does indeed make a difference. I think it’s what helped my mother do as well as she did when she had lung cancer.

    There were times where I wasn’t sure if she was breathing and she’d notice me studying her and pipe up, “No, not yet..” She was hilarious.

    Reply
  • 2. Carol O'Dell  |  August 8, 2009 at 12:32 am

    That’s a great story, Elizabeth! Without the ability to laugh, I don’t think you can keep going–it would just get to be too much. Laughing releases all that stress and connects two hearts.
    Thanks for your comment,
    ~Carol

    Reply

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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