By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor.
Unexpected humorous moments are common in caregiving. In fact, caregiving can be enlivened by the unprompted remarks and unintentional antics of an elderly parent.
But should we feel guilty about laughing? Is our laughter a sign of disrespect or a lack of love for our family member? Do we want to laugh but don’t because we’re afraid of seeming insensitive?
Even in the most dire of circumstances, elder care professionals insist that it is OK, even helpful, to laugh. “Not only is laughing OK, it’s absolutely necessary,” says Cindy Laverty, a former caregiver who founded The Care Company and The Cindy Laverty talk show, a first-of-its-kind forum that discusses the topic of care.
When Laverty was unexpectedly thrust into caregiving, she had to learn how to navigate the complex and overwhelming world of caregiving. But through that journey, she discovered how she could not only survive, but thrive amid the challenges. Finding and holding onto humorous stories of your own can help you keep an upbeat perspective in spite of the challenges of being a caregiver, she explains.
“We go into caregiving with this big dark cloud hanging over us Ė it’s stressful, it’s so awful. When we go in with that attitude, that’s what it becomes. It is stressful and awful, but when we’re having a horrible day, a good day is sure to follow. And even in the midst of those horrible days, there are funny moments that happen. Recognize and appreciate those moments,” she says.
Take Alzheimer’s disease for example. It robs elders of their memories and ability to care for themselves, and that is tragic. Certainly Alzheimer’s is an awful disease, and there is nothing funny about it. But there are funny moments that happen. When you laugh, you’re not laughing at them; you’re laughing because the moment is funny. “If we don’t follow the whole spectrum of emotion, we get lost in the oppression of a chronic disease,” Laverty explains.
Your laughter can also send a positive, non-alarming message to the elder. If you don’t get upset during a challenging, it’s likely that they won’t either. Laughing can turn into a tension relieving exercise for the caregiver and person with Alzheimer’s who, while cognitively impaired, is still greatly influenced by ambient tensions.
The Lighter Side of Caregiving: Appreciate the Humor originally appeared on AgingCare.com.