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Something special happens when you create a moment of laughter for your residents. No matter if your residents are overwhelmed, anxious, or in pain, you have the opportunity to create moments of laughter for them by incorporating some comedy into your activity calendar. Here’s how to get started.
Laughter can sometimes truly be the best medicine. In fact, laughter has been proven to have short and long-term effects that include stress relief, a boosted immune system, and even pain relief! Further, bringing comedy and laughter into the lives of your residents honors their personhood. Nearly everyone can appreciate a good laugh every once in a while, no matter their age or ability.
8 Ways to Create Daily Laughs
Laughter doesn’t have to come via a planned event. Instead, commit to incorporating laughter into your daily routine with residents.
- Choose to be silly
- Open morning exercise with a joke
- Post a silly photo or memo in your community newsletter
- Share a funny story about your morning or day with residents
- Develop a silly handshake with other staff members or with residents and use it often
- Try funny props during your morning exercise program (a set of rubber chickens usually is good for a few belly laughs)
- Have a jar of tongue twisters and pull one out when you have a large group congregated together, like before a social or before a meal
- Tell funny stories on the bus during your outings. An easy way to make it happen? Get everyone involved with a “Fortunately, Unfortunately” exercise. Everyone takes a turn adding a sentence to the story, and they have to start with the word “fortunately” or “unfortunately” (alternate them). For example:
- Once there was a sad wizard. Fortunately, he had a friendly dragon sidekick.
- Unfortunately, the dragon set the wizard’s house on fire with his dragon breath.
- Fortunately, the wizard lived near the fire department.
- Unfortunately, the fire department was closed…..
17 Comedy Inspired Events
You can build in more comedy throughout your monthly calendar by preparing some of these events in your community:
- Invite a local comedian in to give a performance (this is also a great idea for a Family Night activity)
- Read satire and comedy in your Book Club
- Read silly poems during intergenerational events (try Shel Silverstein’s There’s A Polar Bear in My Frigidaire). Also, check out Road Dahl’s take on fairytales Revolting Rhymes.
- Invite an entertainer to perform only silly songs during their next event at your community
- Have a Share A Joke Social where everyone is invited to come to the microphone and share a joke with the audience (give away prizes to the top jokes, and always have a few joke books on hand in case someone doesn’t have one prepared)
- Practice and then implement a flash mob dance in the middle of the day with activities and caregiving staff
- Invite other departments to participate in a Skit competition in front of the residents (have every department perform a skit they wrote or they read)
- Host a Comedy Talent Show for residents, staff, and families to participate in (this idea is funny and easy to replicate!)
- Host a Comedy Movie Night monthly
- Decorate your community bulletin boards with hidden silly faces, jokes, or other funny things
- Host a Writer’s Workshop where your residents gather together to write a skit for the staff or residents to perform
- Invite a local Improv group into your community to perform
- Try Improv with your residents (a quick internet search will give you tons of ideas that often don’t require a lot of extra supplies, like this one)
- Invite a local Laughter Yoga instructor to lead a group with your residents, or find one online you can enjoy together
- Watch old late-night comedy shows from favorites like Johnny Carson
- Listen to comedy radio shows or even more current podcasts (like Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me)
- Enlist the help of residents to pull a friendly prank on another department head or your Administrator
Keep It Professional
Comedy doesn’t have to be unprofessional or inappropriate. Make sure you keep your jokes clean and resident-friendly, as well as informing any entertainer that comes in your expectations. You know your residents best; make sure you aren’t joking around with a resident who is living with a recent loss, transition, or another grieving event. Be sure to train your staff as well so that you can be confident comedy and laughter are always appropriate throughout your community.
So, tell me a good (and appropriate!) joke in the comments so we can all have a bit of a laugh!