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The Best Medicine
When’s the Last Time You Laughed Until You Cried?
A few years ago, I was visiting an assisted living facility when I saw a sign on someone’s door that I loved so much I had to take a picture of it. The sign read, “We don’t stop laughing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop laughing.” It’s just so true. I love to laugh, especially roaring belly laughs that leave tears streaming down my cheeks. Laughter truly is the best medicine. April is National Humor Month, which means it is a great time to look at all the benefits of laughter. A good laugh really is good for our health, and it’s especially good for the health of seniors. When we laugh, our blood vessels relax, which means our blood pressure goes down. Laughter also boosts the immune system by decreasing the levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Laughing is also a form of pain relief because it releases endorphins that make our bodies feel good. Because laughter is so good for you, it’s a real shame that adults don’t laugh more. Studies have shown that the average 4-year-old laughs at least 300 times a day, but the average 40-year-old laughs just four times a day! As we get older, we have to make an effort to keep our sense of humor and keep laughing. This can be easier when we have people around who make us laugh. My grandmother and I used to laugh together all the time, often at each other. We were so close, we’d finish each other’s sentences, and then we’d just start laughing. My grandmother had a great sense of humor and the best laugh. The hardest I ever heard my grandmother laugh when I was 19 years old. I was living with my grandmother at the time, and one night I heard a strange noise from somewhere in the
house. Not long after, a helicopter passed overhead.
We were in the city, so whenever I heard helicopters outside at night, I immediately thought there was a criminal on the loose.
Summoning up some courage, I quietly tiptoed out of my room to investigate. As I was creeping around the corner, I ran into someone in the dark. I did what any reasonable person would do in that situation: I screamed as loud as I could and took a defensive position by dropping on all fours on the ground. Moments later I heard my grandmother laughing. She was the one I’d bumped into. “You would have scared the poor burglar!” she told me, nearly doubled-over in laughter. “If there had been a burglar, that reaction would have scared them good.” It was pretty embarrassing at the time, but now it’s one of my favorite stories to laugh about. This month, I encourage all our readers to laugh more. Watch a funny movie, share silly stories with a friend or family member, or take a walk and look at all the things that make you smile. Having a good sense of humor and laughing freely really help you focus on the positive in life. A good laugh just makes the day feel brighter.
Cindy Saunders, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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