Fall can be a rough time of year. Warm sunny days are pretty much a thing of the past. The "holidays" are looming. And the political campaigns can't be over soon enough. A solution to the doldrums: You just gotta laugh!
Researchers say that laughter is good for all of us. Over the short term, laughter increases oxygen intake and "feel good" endorphin levels; it decreases stress and tension. Over the long term, laughter improves immunity, coping ability, mood, and resilience; it also decreases pain and depression (Mayo Clinic; Chopra). What's not to love!
Laughing can be especially beneficial for people who are ill. Norman Cousins, often credited with starting the "Laugh Your Way to Wellness" movement, is said to have used laughter (along with high doses of Vitamin C) to diminish pain and to speed his recovery from a rare illness.
Laughter therapy, like music therapy, can help to reduce anxiety and increase social engagement in people with dementia. In the Australian SMILE study, residents were exposed to weekly clown visits and daily "fun" interactions (songs, laughs, jokes, and silliness) facilitated by regular staff. Verbal communication increased; agitation and psychotropic drug use decreased.
Laughter can help to reduce stress for family caregivers. Brenda Avadian, a family caregiver and founder of The Caregiver's Voice, has found humor so valuable to her own caregiving that she dedicates an entire page of her website to Caregiver Humor. If you're a family caregiver... and you need a laugh... you're sure to find something to tickle your fancy.
Maybe you're not in a laughing mood... though you'd like to be. Try these 7 Simple Ways to Laugh More Every Day, from Dr. Frank Lipman; follow his recommendations, and you may be laughing, and feeling better, in no time.
"If you laugh a lot, when you get old, your wrinkles will be in the right places."
You may call it "mowing Dad's lawn" or "taking Grandma to the doctor." You do what you do out of love, recognizing only later that one simple task has evolved into something more. That something more is called "caregiving." This distinction is important because identifying as a "family caregiver" gives you access to resources and support that you might not be aware of.
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and AARP, 43.5 million adults provide care to another adult or child with special needs. Approximately 1.5 million of these adults reside in Illinois. Based on the NAC/AARP report, 6 out of 10 are employed. Of these, 60% report that caregiving has impacted their work resulting in reduced hours, a leave of absence, and/or a reprimand related to work/caregiving conflicts.
In response to caregiver needs, AARP pushed for changes in Illinois employee leave regulations. In August, Illinois joined four other states that extend the use of personal sick leave to care for a loved one. Starting January 1, 2017, Illinois employees will be able to use up to six months of accrued sick leave to provide health-related care for their "... child, spouse, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent" (Employee Sick Leave Act). An employer may not deny any employee the right to use the benefits.
The purpose of this act is to provide flexibility to family caregivers, helping them to balance work, family, and caregiving responsibilities.
For access to other resources and supports for family caregivers, call Chris at 847-596-8226 or visit the CareSmart website to learn more about
"One person caring about another represents life's greatest value." Jim Rohn