Depression – is laughter the best medicine?

As we have seen in the ABC TV fly-on-the-way documentary series, Old Age Home for 4 Year Olds, depression can be a real and severe issue for older Australians. We are now at episode 4 and it appears that those aged care home residents experiencing depression are on the up, thanks to socialising with fun loving little people.

Did you know that depression is not a normal part of ageing but depression and mood disorders are sadly common with older people.

What to do?

There’s evidence that depression in later life is associated with vascular disease which can lead to stroke and heart attack. So, you can reduce your risk of developing depression by addressing risk factors for vascular disease, e.g. quit smoking and ensure high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are treated.

Regular exercise is also good at keeping your mind active, as is participating in social activities.

Other important preventive measures, when required, include control of chronic pain and grief counselling after losing a loved one.

And try looking for things to feel good about and have fun with.

This old joke could be a start:

I recently picked a new primary care physician.

After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, he said I was doing "fairly well" for my age.

A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him, "do you think I'll live to be 80?"

My physician asked: "Do you smoke tobacco or drink beer or wine?"

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm not doing drugs either."

Then he asked: "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"

"No," I said. "My other doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy."

"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing, hiking or bicycling?"

"No, I don't," I replied.

My physician asked: "Do you gamble, drive fast cars or have a lot of sex?"

"No," I said. "I don't do any of those things."

He looked at me and said: "Then why do you want to live to 80?"