The Magic of Being Silly

The Magic of Being Silly

User Profile By Haley Burress   United States

Found In: Activities Articles

You know how you feel after a great laugh? The residents you serve don’t get the chance to laugh like that much in their senior years. Bring some playfulness and giggles to your community by giving yourself permission to be a bit silly.
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You know how you feel after a great laugh? The residents you serve don’t get the chance to laugh like that much in their senior years. Bring some playfulness and giggles to your community by giving yourself permission to be a bit silly!

Benefits of Laughter

When you laugh, you are doing more good for your body and brain than you may realize. Research has demonstrated laughter results in multiple physical and emotional benefits, available to anyone who makes time to laugh. A few of these benefits, as per The Mayo Clinic’s reporting, include:

  • Decreased stress
  • Increased immune system response
  • Increase endorphin release (your “feel good” hormone)
  • Pain relief
  • Decreased tension
  • Stimulated heart, liver, and other organs

Who knew a good laugh could make you feel great - emotionally and physically? The good news is that you can spread these benefits to your residents every time you make them chuckle.

How to be Playful and Professional

Residents who live in senior living communities are under a lot of stress and are living with complex medical conditions that can be challenging or even scary. They live with loss and face multiple transitions on a monthly basis. Laughing can often feel pushed to the bottom of the priority list.

However, your unique relationship with the residents you serve can give you a better chance of getting a smile or laugh during your interactions. Even though you are under stress and pressure yourself at work, a little playfulness can go a long way to giving your residents (and yourself!) a bit of an emotional break.

Your role in your community is a professional one, certainly. Your responsibilities are important and your contributions to the quality of life for every resident is serious. However, you can walk the line between professional and playful in order to spread some cheer.

Maintain your professionalism while:

  • Participating in care plan or family meetings
  • Speaking during a group during a solemn or serious occasion
  • Leading Resident Council meetings

Consider being a bit more playful while:

  • Interacting with residents in the hall or before a program
  • Mingling in the dining room during resident meal times
  • Leading some small or large group activities

You know your residents best, and you know your supervisor’s expectations. Consider where you can add some silliness without sacrificing your professional integrity. Remember the golden rule as well: never laugh at someone else’s expense.

12 Ways to Get Silly

Intentionally bring laughter into your community by trying a few new programs or interactions each month. See what works best for you, your team, and your residents and build your laughter program from there.

  • Start morning exercise with a joke (make it an appropriate one!)
  • Develop “secret handshakes” with residents; see how many you can remember and do them in the halls when you see them
  • Host a Laughter Yoga class with a local instructor
  • Have a bin of silly hats or props in your office; pop one on randomly before you head down the hall to say your good morning greetings
  • Gain attention by blowing into a kazoo or honking a bicycle horn before an activity
  • Wear a t-shirt or sweater with a witty expression on it
  • Listen to comedy radio shows with residents
  • Have a Comedy Movie Night monthly to watch a funny movie together
  • Host a joke contest between staff members - call it “Open Mic Night” and have the residents vote on the winning joke
  • Learn a silly dance with your activity staff and perform it as a surprise during your next big event
  • Speaking of dancing, drop everything and have an impromptu dance party at the nursing station when everyone is feeling cranky; one upbeat song will take everyone by surprise and invigorate the staff while making residents giggle
  • Tell residents about the funny thing that happened on your way to work; personal stories build relationships and cultivate laughter

How do you add playfulness to your community, or make your residents laugh?

Let’s share ideas so we can spread the benefits of laughter!

Related:
The Importance of Laughter in Long Term Care
Laughing Together - Five Activities To Get Residents Smiling

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Haley Burress

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Comments   Post a Comment

Susan 22nd Jul 2020 Activity Director
Hi Sue
Thank you for sharing this
Sue Desborough 22nd Jul 2020
(Before Covid-19) I would finish an exercise session with 'the right and left game'. So, write a short story which will last up to 5 minutes, and incorporate the words 'right' (or 'write' or Mr. Wright etc etc) and 'left' ( or 'lieutenant' or Mrs. Lefty etc. etc.) alternately throughout the story. Give a ball or balloon to some of the group members, sitting in a circle and close enough to pass the ball from one to another. After explaining the rules, every time you say the word 'right' the balls pass to the right and change direction when you say 'left'.
You will need to judge how many balls to use and how frequently the group 'change direction' according to group ability.
Truthfully, this is hilarious! Quite often I just cannot make myself heard above the laughter - but who cares!!
Also, ask if anyone can actually remember parts of the story at the end - this is often very interesting.
Enjoy!
Pamela 26th Mar 2020 Therapy Assistant
Download the Laughing Policeman from Itunes. You will have residents and staff in fits of laughter. I get everybody to laugh along with the song.
Jun 26th Mar 2019 Activity Coordinator
Reading a couple or three hilarious short stories to all residents before starting exercises or activities will make them awake and very attentive.
Talita 30th Mar 2019
Love this Jun! Great idea!
Jean 14th Mar 2019 Activities Provider
A true saying'Laughter is the best medicine'
Talita 30th Mar 2019
Yes so true x
Leslie 13th Mar 2019 Activities Assistant
I also sing loud and proud during our sing along time (and am not that good !) but it always gets a chuckle from even the serious ones ! And will get other joining in !
Haley 14th Mar 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Yes Leslie! I love a good and loud sing along! :)
Pamela 12th Mar 2019 Activity Coordinator
I had the clients at our Social Day Program make some medium sized pom poms with yarn of various colors and we have "snowball" fights randomly. I had a full set of 'snowballs' however, we lost a few to a rambunctious group that REALLY got into the game.
This always induces laughter beyond the 4 walls we start off in and occasionally the directors of the program and the senior center join in! It is a certain guarantee that I will be the target and I am just fine with that!
Haley 14th Mar 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Great idea, Pamela!
Salena 12th Mar 2019 Development Worker
I definitely believe in laughter, as much for the clients as for the employees/volunteers. Like you say it is maintaining that balance of professionalism and having the chance to have a laugh and create a smile or two.

We always end up heartily laughing when we play balloon tennis, as the residents are sitting and whacking balloons around the room with myself and the volunteers running around to pick up the balloons and pass them back to them. Often they start off, no don't want to play, but then when we get started they all join in, even the quiet ones.
Leslie 12th Mar 2019 Activities Assistant
Yes, we love the ballon volley with pool noodles ! I had a resident laughing so hard she had tears watching me attempt to use a hand held air pump for the first time ! Took me 20 minutes to blow up 8 balloons!!
Haley 14th Mar 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Love this Salena!
Haley 11th Mar 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Haley has submitted a new article: The Magic of Being Silly
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