Beat Caregiver Stress with Humor

If you are a senior caregiver, you already know what it means to make a difference in someone’s life in a meaningful way. And you are not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, due to the increasing number of aging Baby Boomers, the number of Home Health Aides and Personal Care Assistants is projected to grow by 49% over the next ten years — much faster than the average workforce. The need for trained and certified caregivers isn’t going anywhere.

Family caregivers, also known as informal caregivers make up 29% of the U.S. adult population, providing care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged as of November 2012, according to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

Where there are caregivers, you’ll find caregiver stress. Both professional and non-professional caregivers can find their own health at risk due to high levels of stress, anxiety and exhaustion due to the nature of caring for the elderly.

Humor is a valuable weapon against stress. April is National Humor Month. Originally founded in 1976 by author and humorist Larry Wilde, the original idea was to “heighten public awareness of the therapeutic and restorative values of joy and laughter.” Studies have shown that laughter does indeed affect people on a physiological level.

A good laugh can not only make you feel better, but laughing can have the following effects:

Blood Flow
Like mild exercise, a good laugh can stretch your muscles, boost your heart rate, and get more oxygen into your tissues.

Immune System
Laughing can boost your immune system by raising the level of infection-fighting antibodies in the body.

Laughter can relieve physical tension and relax your muscles for up to 45 minutes.

According to Natural News, laughter can also help fight infections, relieve hay fever, ease pain and help with chronic fatigue.

I thought it might be appropriate to post comedian Jeff Foxworthy and caregiver/author Peter Rosenberger’s AARP video to help you figure out if you might be a caregiver. Granted, they produced it for November’s National Family Caregivers Month, but I’m sure the laughs will be just as welcome now.

Take some time out of your busy schedule to find the humor in your everyday life. Laughter may be the best medicine, and as a caregiver, you deserve to treat yourself to the emotional and physical benefits that laughter and joy bring.

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