Monthly Archives: November 2008

Blog instructions

Hello everyone,

Welcome to our blog.  This blog is for you!  We wanted to create a better way to communicate to all of you and for you to start communicating with each other.  So here is how you do it.

1.  Check for new posts.  Kami and I will make new posts monthly.  They will include: articles, activity ideas, and general info we need to pass on.

2.  Comment on the posts.  Scroll down to the bottom right hand side of menu bar and click on login. Enter your username and password.  Click visit site next to TR Connections at the top of the page.  Click on the word comments after the post you wish to comment on.  Enter your comment and make sure to include your name and facility. (unnamed comments will be deleted) Then click submit

3.  Create your own posts.  Same login instructions as above.  Click on visit site at the top of page, then click on new post at the top of that page.  Type or insert your post.  Click publish and then save on the toolbar on the right.

We hope you will use this blog to connect with your fellow TRT/recreation therapy providers

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Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Consultant Notes


Leisiure activities help the brain to stay sharp

Leisure Activities Help the Brain Stay Sharp

Source: Tufts University
February 25, 2002


Research has shown that keeping your brain intellectually “active” may provide some protection against Alzheimer’s disease. But what about less intellectual pursuits, like taking a walk or visiting with friends? Could they also protect your brain? It’s possible, according to a study published recently in the journal Neurology.

Focusing on the leisurely life

While previous studies have found intellectual activities, such as career-related and educational work, to be associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease, few studies have looked at the potential effect of leisurely pursuits on brain health. So researchers in New York set out to do just that. They recruited a group of 1,772 older men and women with no clinical signs of dementia, and asked them how often they participated in any one of 13 leisure activities. The choices ranged from physical activities such as walking and participating in an exercise class, to social activities such as playing cards, listening to music, and going to movies. The researchers then tracked the participants for up to 7 years, noting those who developed dementia during that time.

The results showed that those with a high participation in leisure activities were 38% less likely than others in the study to develop dementia. This effect held even after the researchers factored in other things, like occupation and health limitations, known to affect risk of dementia. The activities most strongly associated with lower risk were walking, visiting with friends, and going to movies or restaurants.

Possible explanation

It can’t be said for sure why high participation in leisure activities was associated with a lower risk for dementia in this study. The researchers speculate that participating in leisure activities may give people a “reserve” that allows their brain to stay sharp for a longer period of time before symptoms of dementia set in. It’s also possible, say the authors, that the constant thought that goes into all kinds of activity, even leisure pursuits, helps the brain to function properly.

It’s important to note that low participation in leisure activities may not reflect increased risk of dementia. These people may perhaps have already had the beginnings of dementia, and that impeded their ability to participate in leisure activities.

While further research is needed to confirm and expand upon these results, this study is evidence that living a life rich in both intellectual and leisurely pursuits may be good for both physical and mental well being.


  • Influence of leisure activity on the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. N. Scarmeas, G. Levy, M-X. Tang,  et al., Neurology, 2001, vol. 57, pp. 2236–2242
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Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Articles


Laughter Yoga with seniors video

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Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Activities


Laughter Yoga

Domains built through Laughter Yoga

Physical Domain: improves physical health, mobility, fitness, and energy.

Social Domain: Laughter unites people, and bonds us through humor and play.

Psychological Domain: builds/strengthens self-esteem, self-expression, and increase feelings of well-being.

Environmental Domain: builds social networks and social connectedness.

Laughter Yoga Procedure:

Overview: Laughter Yoga combines unconditional laughter with yogic breathing (Pranayama). Anyone can laugh for no reason, without relying on humor, jokes or comedy. Laughter is simulated as a body exercise in a group but with eye contact and childlike playfulness, it soon turns into real and contagious laughter. The concept of Laughter Yoga is based on a scientific fact that the body cannot differentiate between fake and real laughter. One gets the same physiological and psychological benefits.
Laughtercises combine therapeutic laughter with healing humor and expand on the “laugh for no reason” concept of Laughter Yoga. Scientific research has proven laughter triggers the pleasure centers in the brain and happiness chemicals are produced when the body is placed in acts of joy.

Laughtercises help re-train the brain and improve physiology. They include:

Entertaining body movements designed to boost self-esteem, expand healthy communication and increase skill in coping with anger, anxiety and grief.

Humorous breathing techniques to increase oxygenation in the blood, stimulate the diaphragm and relax the mind and body by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system.

Amusing stretching poses to keep the body agile, improve posture and reduce the risk of injury to the joints, muscles and tendons.

Playful tapping exercises to stimulate acupressure points to enhance the digestive, endocrine, skeletal, muscular, nervous and lymphatic systems.

Benefits of Laughter

  • Strengthens the heart and lungs
  • Improves circulations
  • Helps regulate blood pressure
  • Decreases stress hormones
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Helps lessen anxiety
  • Alleviates pain
  • Is a natural antidepressant
  • Enriches the blood with oxygen
  • Enhances blood supply to internal organs
  • Triggers a healthy respiratory pattern
  • Massages the digestive tract
  • Increases stamina


  • Have at least two people, up to a small party with even numbers
  • When laughing, maintain eye contact – a bonding that helps to share the laughter
  • Have a willingness to laugh, even though it may be difficult at first
  • Fake it till you make it: your body doesn’t recognize the difference

Start off by clapping your hands whilst looking into your partners’ eyes (clap so that the ends of your fingers and thumbs come together – these are acupressure points/meridians that act as little endorphin pumps). Clap to the rhythm of one, two, one two three saying Ho, Ho to one side of the body followed by Ha Ha Ha to the other, all the time laughing/smiling and looking into your partners eyes. After five repeats with one person (if you’re in a group), move on to the next person and repeat until everyone has met and shared eye contact/smiles/laughter with each other. (The Ho Ho’s come from the belly as in Father Christmas; the Ha Ha’s come from higher up in the heart region, giving your diaphragm a work-out).

Now you’ve warmed up and greeted everybody, we’ll let our inner child come out to play. Here’s a few ideas: once you get going, see if you can make up some of your own – laughter is infectious, so enjoy!!

Laugh at yourself– lighten up; don’t take yourself too seriously; act your shoe size, not your age! I’m six. An important part of laughter sessions is to be playful – to recapture our childlike playfulness and be willing to be a little bit silly. I know it can take some time to build the confidence to do that. So before laughing with others, see if you can laugh at yourself. Simply point your thumb at your chest and chuckle, letting it gradually grow into a full-blown laugh. If it helps, visualize a previous occasion where you enjoyed laughing at yourself, or visualize a baby laughing at itself just for the sheer joy of it.
Milk shake laugh – Holding an imaginary glass in each hand, pour an imaginary laughter milk-shake from one glass to the other whilst saying an exaggerated Ooooh and then back into the other glass with an Aaaah before extending your thumb and raising the glass full of laughter to your lips in a gesture of drinking.
Funky chicken laugh – Put your thumbs under your armpits and flap your wings, sticking your chest out and maybe scratching the ground with your foot because the other chicken has invaded your territory, all the while laughing your heads off. (Males remember this is non-competitive; you are not really a chicken and this is not really a farmyard!)
After expending all this energy, we’re just going to wind down with a little deep breathing exercise. Raise your arms slowly above your head whilst breathing ‘life force’ in, and then slowly exhale ‘waste products’ out as you bend forward till your hands touch your knees. As with all exercise, (and laughter is a very thorough exercise), use common-sense if you have a medical condition that would be exacerbated by these moves. We’re talking about an internal aerobic workout here, similar to a run round the block!

Other laughtercises:

  • Greeting laughter
  • open mouth silent laughter
  • appreciation laughter
  • lion laughter
  • one meter laughter
  • open arms laughter
  • celebration laughter.

Some LY Adaptations:

  • Chester jester: have participants pick the laughtercises from a hat
  • Noise makers/shakers/clappers/pre-recorded laughter CD’s etc used to help clients who are not able to vocalize laughter due to low volume or other reasons.
  • Power wheel chairs stay stationary while those who are able to ambulate circulate the room.
  • Position the room accordingly so everyone can see each other to maintain good eye contact.


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Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Activities