SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (March 9, 2021) - “Gray Matters: Laughter and Brain Health” is the title of a free virtual lecture for Michigan seniors on Wednesday, March 17, at 1 p.m. aimed at helping them find the brighter side of life by exploring the benefits of laughter on the brain, particularly during current stressful times. Brain health expert Dr. Linda Keilman, associate professor, gerontology nurse practitioner and gerontology content expert for Michigan State University’s College of Nursing, will be talking about some of the changes that happen in the brain as people age and how laughter can make a difference to memory, mood, and even physical health. The uplifting event is part of a monthly “Gray Matters” lecture series offered from Mind University, a joint initiative of JVS Human Services and Jewish Family Service, which provides seniors with activities and programs to keep their brains healthy and vital especially at a time when so many seniors are isolated from friends and family. To register for the free Zoom lecture, email MindU@jfsdetroit.org or call (248)788-MIND.
“As we age, we are prone to develop chronic conditions and, as a result, often we are given medication which effects the body and the brain,” says Dr. Keilman. “But medication doesn’t solve everything. Laughter and humor can be very therapeutic and can build resilience, reduce depression and a sense of isolation, which is particularly needed right now.”
Dr. Keilman explained that laughter effects neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to the release of serotonin and dopamine, which make people feel better and cope with stress more effectively. She added that laughter can also improve the circulation of blood around the brain and reduce the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, resulting in improvements in the cardiovascular system, immune system and even memory.
Dr. Keilman has several strategies for seniors to implement which can increase laughter in their lives, ranging from watching funny TV shows and films, listening to comedians, reading newspaper comics or cartoon books, watching funny animal and children videos for those who have access to a computer, or even reading amusing greeting cards at a store. “There are so many things you can do to give yourself a giggle, and when there is joy in life, the brain just works better,” says Dr. Keilman.