CareLinx contributing writer Connie Chow reminds us that caregiving humor is a good thing. IDEO design consultant Barbara Beskind (age 92) says in order to stay healthy as we age, “keep a sense of humor and make it a part of you. LAUGH at errors.”
Caregiving has funny moments
Funny moments can happen while you’re caring for an older adult. Of course, chronic illnesses or diseases like Alzheimer’s are certainly no laughing matter. But even in the middle of the worst day, there’s still room for laughter.
Let’s talk about why it’s good for both you and your senior to find humor in caregiving and why you shouldn’t feel guilty about it.
Life doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom
Even if you’re caring for an older adult with a debilitating illness or in declining health, the world doesn’t have to be dark, gray, and depressing all the time. It might sound counterintuitive, but these are the times when a dose of humor is most needed.
Besides, being angry, miserable, and tense won’t change a bad situation or make your senior’s life more pleasant. So why not try to look at the funny or positive side of things whenever possible?
Laughing helps cope with difficult emotions
It turns out that humor is a very effective way of coping with the difficult emotions that come with caregiving and aging.
In research studies, over 75% of recurrent cancer patients and those facing terminal illness said that maintaining a sense of humor was very important. It was right up there with being pain-free. That’s a pretty big endorsement.
It’s not mean or disrespectful
A common reason why caregivers resist looking for humor is that they feel guilty about seeming mean or disrespectful of their senior. In truth, part of being a wonderful caregiver is to let yourself laugh and to encourage laughter in your older adult.
After all, you’re not laughing at the person you love and care for. You’re laughing at a funny, ridiculous, or ironic situation. Best of all are the times when your older adult laughs even harder than you do.
Funny caregiving stories
We found some funny stories from caregivers that show what we mean about finding the humor in caregiving.
Here are two we really liked:
Something cute. I came home yesterday from work and Mom came out to the kitchen to greet me. I said, “Mom, you have on my sweat pants!” We each have a pair of soft, comfy pea green sweats. Hers are a size 14 and mine are a few sizes bigger! She says, “I thought I had lost a lot of weight!” Then she pulls up her shirt to show me she had them pinned to her bra to keep them up! We had a good laugh!
I was kneeling beside Mom’s bed last night when she was saying her bedtime prayer. This night she prayed, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the LORD my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray he takes me like an earthquake.” Instead of …my soul to take. I said “what?” Mom laughed and said, “well, I couldn’t remember the rest and …well, it rhymed” ! ~ Amen!
No caregiver and no older adult will feel like laughing all the time. But giving yourself permission to notice when funny things do happen and encouraging your senior to laugh eases the burden and makes life more positive for both you.