Laughter is good medicine at local care homes

Angela Hill
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Residents at Pineview Terrace Lodge wear masks as part of their laughter yoga.

It starts with a few fake, forced laughs, with residents imagining how a lion would laugh, and ends with everyone giggling for real.

"We had staff and volunteers involved and residents were laughing so hard they were crying," said Trina Chamberlain, recreation co-ordinator at Pineview Terrace Lodge, a special care home in Prince Albert.

Chamberlain was just trained in laughter yoga, a phenomenon that is spreading around the world, and she's bringing it to the residents at the home.

"It's a proven fact that laughter is the best medicine," she said.

During the summer, a volunteer group from the community came in to lead the residents in the breathing exercises, stretching and laughter.

"It's so good for everybody to do, especially the seniors because it helps get rid of that stale air for them," said Allison Marcotte, laugher yoga coach.

"It's the one exercise that can change you mentally, emotionally and physically."

Laughter yoga alleviates stress and makes you feel happier and healthier and improves breathing, said Chamberlain.

"Now that Trina has been trained with it . . . it's something she can incorporate in (the residents') everyday life at different times," Marcotte said.

With Chamberlain able to lead the laughter exercises, she plans on adding it to the residents' activities on a regular basis.

"Now we're tweaking it and adding it into the regular Monday exercise regime, where we do in-motion stretches, but we're going to incorporate the laughter into it, so it'll be laughing in motion," she said.

Some days only a handful of people want to participate, but on others there are 18 to 20 laughing together. Since it began, Chamberlain said she's seen the residents with more energy and heard them comment about getting better sleep.

"We had one lady, she said, 'I can't believe how good I feel,' " said Chamberlain.

"Lets face it, if you are around someone who's laughing, doesn't it make you want to laugh and don't you want to be with them? It makes you feel good."

"I'm really glad it was introduced to me so I can share it with our residents."


Organizations: Prince Albert

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