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J Holist Nurs. 2006 Sep;24(3):188-93.

Humor and older adults: what makes them laugh?

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  • 1Florida Gulf Coast University, USA.


Laughter, the physical response to perceived humor, has demonstrated positive effects on physical and psychological well-being. Studies that focus on effects of humor on health and well-being of older adults are scarce. No studies were found that examine what older adults find humorous. The purpose of this descriptive study was to explore the humor stimulus in a population of older adults. One hundred thirty (130) hospital auxiliary personnel aged 50 and older were asked the question What makes you laugh? Content analysis of responses revealed nine themes in two major categories, which were (a) people or animals and (b) situations or events. Children represented the largest category of people (30%), and telling jokes represented the largest category of situations or events (51%). Humor can be used by nurses as an effective therapeutic tool when caring for older adults if appropriate sources of humor are identified and applied.

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