Humor and Aging:

Techniques for Introducing Humor into the

Aging Services Setting



Humor and Aging

Introducing Humor into the Nursing Home

Caregiver Humor Attitudes

Resident Humor Profile

Staff Humor Profile

Leadership Humor Differences


Humor Quotient Newsletter




 Gathered from Caregivers


In February, 2009 ITCHS led a session called "Laugher Is the Best Medicine" at the Aging Services of Minnesota Institute. The following November ITCHS led a session at the Care Providers'  conference entitled "Vitalist humor:  Linking up the the Life Spirit." At both sessions,  Moderator Pastor Bill Flesch invited participants, aging services professionals from throughout Minnesota, to share their successes and frustrations in introducing humor into the aging services setting. Care providers, including residential nurses, home-care nurses, recreational and activities directors, social workers, dieticians, administrators, pastors, and others offered their experiences. Participant input is here compiled.


How are you introducing humor in the nursing home?


"Cokes and Jokes":  we "sugar them up" and then we all tell Ole and Lena jokes and the like around the table.

Close out the current events group with a couple of jokes like blonde jokes

For recreation we use the internet and You-tube, for example "Charlie Bit Me"

Close the reading of a Bible passage with a funny story

From a music therapist, joking around, as in "How 'bout them Vikings?"  

Tell jokes

Laugh at ourselves





A time called “Funny Bone”: we bring in jokes to share and so do residents

Play “Cheater Scrabble,” and many of the words are inappropriate

Variety Show

Costume parties where the staff dress in funny costumes, for example as fruit

“The Humor Hour”:  currently we are reading Art Linkletter’s Kids Say the Darndest Things, but sometimes we show funny videos


“Holy Humor”:  church bulletin bloopers and the like

Happy Hour with alcoholic beverages:  the residents are laughing as they come down the hall before they’ve had anything to drink

Play Farkle

An exercise group where people bring in jokes to share; residents enjoy the jokes more than the exercise

Starting chapel with a joke

Laminating jokes and placing them on dining tables

Play a tape of a baby laughing


How are you using Therapeutic Laughter?


Exercises where we repeat “Ho-ho-ho . . . .”


How are you using humor for stress reduction?


In one instance in the hospital, we used humor, after careful examining of the situation, when a pre-surgical patient threatened to sue the hospital if a particular physician were present in the operating room


What problems using humor have you encountered?


Don’t laugh AT the residents

Residents don’t understand the humor—it must be simple.

Problems with hearing

Processing a joke is hard work for many residents

Those with severe memory problems may not be able to remember the start of the joke by them time they get to the end.



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