Dad joke your way to better brain health

Submitted by Sam Shumway, State Director for AARP Wyoming in Cheyenne

What did the dog say when he sat on a piece of sandpaper? Rough.

As the father of five, I am no stranger to lame “dad jokes,” but a new study suggests laughter is a large component of maintaining positive mental well-being, brain health and even decreased instances of dementia.

According to data recently released by The Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), an ability to maintain a positive sense of mental well-being is related to better brain health and even lower dementia rates in older adults. The GCBH defines mental well-being as a person’s experience of feeling good, functioning well, and coping adequately with life’s challenges.

Functioning well means being able to think and reason sufficiently to conduct daily activities, but also the ability to function socially with others and to cope with life’s challenges.

We know that multiple medications taken together can negatively affect mental well-being and cognitive health, which is why it is a good idea to regularly discuss your regimen with your provider. We also know that you can improve your sense of mental well-being, regardless of age or physical condition; and relating well to others and having good emotional control are key to mental well-being.

Experts recommend a variety of activities that can help people preserve a positive sense of mental well-being. Finding time to laugh at funny movies, books or online videos is one step towards a positive sense of mental well-being. It also relives stress, reduces tension and even lessens pain.

Which reminds me, Did you hear about the restaurant on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.

A few other activities the GCBH suggests for a better sense of mental health include: strengthening relationships with family and friends, getting regular exercise, finding ways to relieve mental and physical stress, regularly reviewing your medications and their interactions that may be clouding your thinking and feelings, and getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

The study also suggests volunteering in your community to help provide a sense of purpose, which can ward off anxiety, depression and loneliness. If you need a place to volunteer, call AARP and we can find a place for you.

And remember to take the time to laugh. Even now for example: What do you call a fake noodle? An Impasta.