First up in this week’s news is a look at an article on humor and the mental health of senior citizens I found over at healthday.com. A new study from researchers at Loma Linda University in California looked at the effects of the stress hormone cortisol on aging patients’ memory and mental acuity. They studied the possibility that laughter might lower the effects of cortisol on the seniors.
Healing Power of Funny Videos
Two groups of senior citizens were shown a funny 20 minute video and then were tested on their memory and mental acuity as well as cortisol levels. This was then compared to tests on a group who did not see the video. The subjects who saw the funny video were found to score better on the memory tests and had lower cortisol levels suggesting that regular exposure to funny and humorous things can improve memory and mental state of seniors.
The study was presented recently at the Experimental Biology conference in San Diego. One of the authors summed up the research saying, “it’s simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory.” This doesn’t mean that we need to be comedians in the midst of our care for patients but it does point to the core nursing tenet that when we treat the whole patient we manage their overall health better.
Make sure your hospitals have access to humorous videos and movies in their in-house TV system. Maybe even share a suggested funny YouTube video of the day with your patients who wish to view it. When appropriate, you could even open up your patient interactions with a simple joke. Maybe “why did the chicken cross the road” will be a precursor to better patient interactions in the future.