Humor and Aging:
Humor Preferences among Caregivers of the Aging
Word Play and Sympathetic Pain are Favorites
The 2009 Minnesota Aging Services Institute seminar on humor was a great joy for ITCHS staff—we learned much of what humor work is underway at assisted living facilities, we appreciated getting feedback on our assessment of senior humor preferences at Lake Winona Manor , and we vastly appreciated the better than 240 respondents to the cartoon half of the Humor Quotient Test.
With a total of 241 usable responses from professionals attending the Aging Service of Minnesota Institute February 2009, we are now able to report the following adjusted average scores for four humor-of-the-mind humor types:
The joke type most preferred among conference participants was Word Play, with Sympathetic Pain coming in second.
Word Play and Sympathetic Pain preferences combine to create a Consoler humor personality for the group as a whole. A Consoler is a comforter, someone who sympathizes and soothes pain with the right words—a useful humor profile for aging services providers!
Consoler also is the same group humor personality resulting from testing of nursing home residents at Lake Winona Manor. However this group (80% of whom were women) leaned most strongly toward Sympathetic Pain and, secondarily, toward Word Play.
Sympathetic Pain is a humor that laughs with one another over life’s challenges. It is not put-down humor or judgmental humor.
Word Play humor is often not very complicated or deep, relying on the language ability that we share.
These results strongly suggest that the work environment in the elder-care industry favors appreciation for Word Play and Sympathetic Pain humor and that such a bias creates something of a humor bond between staff and residents.
As noted earlier, the few males tested at Lake Winona Manor did not share the strong Consoler humor personality of the women residents.