How To Keep Your Parents Young

Just a few hours ago, as I was sitting with my parents in complete silence watching the daily news, I decided to do something I never normally do.

I decided to secretly apply silly Snapchat filters to each of their faces and then later showed it to them. I wasn’t sure the response I was going to get, but we actually ended up laughing for a good few minutes after that.

Seeing their faces, as they laughed with all of their heart, their smiles reaching their eyes, I could visibly see their stress fading away, I could see their wrinkles smoothening over, I could see a much younger version of my parents sitting before me. And it made me want to see them like that more often. I wanted to see them like that all the time.

In fact, if it were to me, I would spend my entire life sitting there with my parent as they laughed their hearts out.

We all want our parent to stay with us forever. We want them to be a part of every highlight of our life, every happy moment, every sad moment, every promotion and every achievement just like they have been since our childhood.

We are used to having them around. They are our home, after all.

No one wants their parents to age. If it were to us, we would keep them with us — forever young.

Aging is a scary phenomenon. As we grow up, our responsibilities double up, our financial burdens increase and life becomes generally more complicated. This further leads to cognitive decline leading to generalized dementia, reduced quality of life and sleep and higher rates of depression.

All of the constant stress and worry tend to age up to a person well beyond their actual age.

Recently I came across something called the ‘laughter therapy’.

Generally speaking, laughter therapy is a form of therapy that involves relieving stress and sadness in an individual using humor.

How this works is that when a person laughs — really laughs with all their heart, certain chemicals called Endorphins are released into their brain. These are responsible for promoting a general feeling of pleasure and satisfaction in a person, and in turn, relieving stress.

But you don’t know really need science to prove that laughing makes you feel better, do you? When was the last night you laughed your heart out with someone you love? How did that make you feel after?

Personally, whenever I am feeling low, instead of venting it out to the world, I like to binge watch shows like Friends. That is my source of laughter and helps to alleviate my mood within minutes. However, even though we are fortunate enough to be born in an age of technology, most of our parents are not so good with it. Let’s be their source of laughter.

Laughter therapy is a much-researched topic due to its stress and pain releasing effects long term.

A specific study focused on the effects of laughter therapy on elderly was published in the Journal of Geriatrics Gerontology in 2010. The researchers mainly investigated the effects of laughter therapy on levels of depression, cognitive function(memory decline), quality of life and sleep in 109 individuals over the age of 65 years.

The therapy was conducted once a week for four weeks and it concluded in an overall positive effect on sleep, increased self-esteem and reduced levels of depression.

What makes laughter therapy so effective is that it essentially produces a butterfly effect. You only laugh around people you are comfortable with or people you generally have some degree of bonding with. Hence when you are in a room with a group of people, similar to your age group, sharing a similar environment specifically created to make you feel comfortable, it creates a social bonding. So when you see someone else laughing, even if you didn’t find the stimulus funny enough initially, you end up laughing yourself. This is due to your social bond with that person. Soon enough the entire room is laughing creating a positive atmosphere, which helps you forget your problems and enjoy the moment. In the end, you leave the room, feeling genuinely lighter.

Going through the study made me realize if a nurse making a group of elderly laugh and dance for 1 hour just once a week can show tremendous improvements in their health and overall well being, why can’t we do the same for our parents?

It doesn’t require money or resources, just your time.

Imagine what would happen if we just sit with or call our parents for just a few minutes every day and make them have a good time. It could be anything, literally anything.

From cracking a joke to watching funny cat videos on the internet, you can make their day without even knowing it. Whatever makes them laugh with all their heart.

As you grow old, instead of treating your parents as a parent, start treating them like a friend. A friend you respect with all your heart, but a friend with whom you can sit for hours and have a good time. This not only gives them a feeling of being younger but helps form a closer bond.

As someone who considers their parents to be their closest friends, I’d say there is no friendship like a friendship with your parents.

How To Keep Your Parents Young

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