Sunday, August 18, 2013

Aging and Humor: Young and Old Responses (Research)

Laughing matters are enjoyed by both the young and old. But do they respond the same when they joke? Research on humor suggests that older adults love humor more than young people, but they have more difficulty understanding what certain jokes mean. Punch lines can be puzzling. Considering how much language changes over the years, that makes perfect sense. After all, acronyms such as “lol” meant “lots of love” back in the day, not “laughing out loud.” But cognitive processes in older adults can also play an important role in their misunderstanding humor.

What about the amount of laughter that the young and old exhibit? Although older adults love humor more than young people, the amount of laughter they display is less than the laughter of young people. Some things seem less funny as they age. Older adults also don’t like aggressive forms of humor as much as young people. They are especially sensitive to jokes about old age. Can you blame them?

I wanted to conclude this post with a few positive jokes about older adults or aging. Frankly, I had a very hard time finding jokes that weren’t critical of aging and with an emphasis on physical and mental decline. I would like to see more jokes in praise of aging without all the stereotypes that even some older adults believe so much that they have grown to become the stereotypes themselves. Now, new crops of young people are perpetuating the same stereotypes and worse at numerous sites on the Internet. Eventually, I found these two jokes to share.

Clever Hearing

An elderly gentleman had hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back in a month. The doctor said, "Your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased that you can hear again." The gentleman replied, "Oh, I haven't told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I've already changed my will three times!"

Best Thing

A reporter was interviewing a 104-year-old woman. 
"What do you think is the best thing about being 104?" the reporter asked.
The woman simply replied, "No peer pressure."

Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries.
Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog

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