Children smile more than 400 times a day. Yet as we age, our faces begin to show more blank expressions and even frowns. The happiest of adults smile an average of 40–50 times a day, while the average adult only smiles 20 times a day. Fortunately, there is good news about smiling that may inspire us to change our ways. Growing research finds that smiling elicits a plethora of health benefits, including less stress and a happier, longer life.
Scientific studies conclude that smiling is similar to getting restful sleep and actually awakens your brain with feel-good neural messaging. Even slight grins boost physical health. For example, smiling:
- Fortifies the immune system. A happy face makes for an upbeat mood and relaxed body, which enhance immune function. Smiling literally aids in the prevention of flu and colds and is even credited in treating cancer.
- Produces stress-reducing hormones like cortisol, dopamine and adrenaline to counter the risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke and structural changes in the brain's memory.
- Releases the body's natural drugs. With a happy face, the body releases pain-reducing endorphins to relax the body, reduce heart rate and lower blood pressure.
- Positively changes mood. Psychologists note that if a person grins for 60 seconds, even if the grin is faked or forced, the body releases mood-lifting serotonin that helps the body feel contented again. The British Dental Health Foundation concludes that smiles are naturally sweet and can produce the same emotional response as a person eating 2,000 chocolate bars.
- Uplifts the face for a more youthful look. Smile muscles physically draw up the face, making a person look younger and more vibrant.
Right at Home caregivers understand how to bring out smiles through shared activities, conversations and memories with your elderly loved ones. And that is something to smile about.
How can you help your ageing loved one smile more often throughout the day?