The past 2 months I have been doing a lot of laughter yoga programs with Altzheimers residents at an assisted living facility. It has been a wonderful and fascinating experience.
The residents are at varying levels of progression in their illness. Some are very alert and some are very lethargic and come in the room looking very sleepy and sad. They participate in the laughter and breathing at their own levels. I incorporate a lot of personal touch and singing with it.
So far, this is what I see happening. They begin to wake up, they look more alert, brighter, and they begin to smile and even laugh. The color comes back into their faces. They are thanking me for coming and asking me to come back. One resident told me that most of the activities they do are with people "entertaining" them and they just sit. She said, "we spend a lot of time sitting here". She then told me, "I like the laughter yoga because we are doing something too. It is fun." Some of the staff is now saying to me, we could use this too. So I'm inviting them to join in and participate with us.
So here is my ulterior motive. If the residents start laughing and feeling better they will be easier to care for and more cooperative maybe. If the staff starts laughing they will feel better and less stressed and will be able to care for the residents in a better way. It will be a win-win situation for both. I have asked some staff if the residents are better after I leave and they are saying yes. They are telling me they look forward to my coming. I continue to oberve and learn myself. This is not the type of nursing care I was ever taught in school!
I am a registered nurse and have worked a great deal with the elderly and with people with Altzheimers . I am acutely aware of the challenges involved for both the patient and the caregivers. But I am also convinced that nursing care involves more than just giving medications and doing treatments. I have come to see the laughter yoga as an extension of my nursing care. It cares for the heart and the soul . That is an important part of healing also.