Laughter is the best medicine

Chelsea Girard
By Chelsea Girard February 9, 2018 14:18

Christopher Lyons demonstrates a laughter activity at the 3rd Annual Laugh-A-Thon. (Photo by Chelsea Girard)

By Chelsea Girard

Retirement and long-term care homes in Windsor are using laughter yoga as a way to help residents living with Alzheimer’s or dementia to destress.

In celebration of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month in January, the Seasons Retirement Communities hosted the third annual Laugh Out Loud Laugh-A-Thon at Devonshire Mall on Jan. 27.

Participants enjoyed laughing and performing various silly activities that were easy to follow and allowed all ages and abilities to enjoy.

AgingCare.com refers to laughter therapy as a complementary and alternative medicine. The website states humour and jokes can produce positive feelings in a person with dementia leading to increased immune function and greater pain tolerance.

Chris Lyons, certified laughter yoga leader, has been a part of the event since its inception and is dedicated to the cause.

“I’ve worked with laughter yoga since 2009 and ever since I have been providing laughter and happiness to those who need it most,” said Lyons. “We travel to businesses and schools to do this same event, but with different age groups comes different abilities, so it’s always fun to see what everyone comes up with.”

According to the Alzheimer’s Society Canada, more than half a million Canadians are currently living with dementia and more than 7,000 of those live in Windsor-Essex.

The study shows within the next 15 years, this figure will climb to almost a million people living with dementia in Canada.

Amy Webb, caregiver to her grandmother who has Alzheimer’s, said it can be very unpredictable and wishes she discovered these resources sooner.

“My grandmother has been through a lot with Alzheimer’s disease but is getting more support these days in comparison to previous years,” said Webb. “With more programs offering more than just pill adjustments and sleep treatments, she is not only happier, but believes that life is more fulfilling if she can enjoy it.”

Laughter yoga is proven to reduce stress, boost the immune system, release endorphins, stimulate the digestive system and stimulate creative thinking.

Dr. Madan Kataria, founder of the Global Laughter Yoga Movement, first started the movement in Mumbai, India in 1995.

It has grown into more than 6000 laughter yoga clubs in more than 60 countries.

“The demand for laughter yoga has increased exponentially to cater to the need of people in different areas such as social clubs, businesses and schools,” said Kataria. “Laughter yoga is constantly evolving and we are developing different programs to benefit people for their health and happiness.”

Although it is not a cure for Alzheimer’s, laughter yoga always leaves its participants with a smile on their faces.

Chelsea Girard
By Chelsea Girard February 9, 2018 14:18

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