I recently read an article called “Why the elderly have a sense of humour failure”.
The researchers said it was likely that age-related decline in short term memory, abstract reasoning and shifting between different trains of thought affects the ability to understand humor.
So although a these factors may effect the way someone responds to a joke, here are some things that I’ve found help elders to laugh:
When my mother was at a point where she could not effectively follow the nuances of a joke, it was clear that if laughter were to be a part of her life, we’d need to put some thought into it. First and foremost I observed the things that delighted her, held her attention and made her smile or laugh.
Visual humor: One day a friend of mine, out of the blue, got my mother’s attention. He poured a little water into his mouth, pulled on his earlobe while spitting the water out in a stream. OMG, my mother could not get enough of it!
Funny words: My elder friend who likes to be included in all conversations, will often laugh when she hears word groups that sound funny to her. One day I had said “It sounded like I cracked a tooth!”, and she got such a kick out of the way “cracked a tooth” sounded, She repeated it a few times the way someone would repeat a funny punchline, so I rolled with it and laughed along with her. It became a contagious back and forth of chortling.
Corny jokes: Even if the elder doesn’t really “get” the joke, the way corny jokes are often delivered is enough of a cue to indicate that humor is involved, which can spur laughter.
Most of all, follow their lead. If something tickles grandma’s funny bone, and you don’t understand why, laugh with her. It’s the laughter that has healing powers, not the actual joke, so take advantage of laughter whenever you can!
A person’s sense of humor does shift as they get age, but that’s no reason to stop laughing!
To read more of the article, click here