By Marge Knoth, Author, Activity Professional
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Author, Activity Professional
Valley Press Books

Marge Knoth attended Purdue
University and took her activity
director training at Indiana
University and her social
service at Ball State.  She is
the author of ten books for
activity professionals. Her
books have been used as
teaching guides in colleges,
trade schools, and in activity
director courses throughout the
U.S. and Canada. They have
won both national and state
awards from the National
Federation of Press Women
and Women’s Press Club of

Marge has written a monthly
column, "A Letter from Marge"
for Current Activities in Long
Term Care.  She has been
published in Family Circle,
Lady’s Circle, Women’s Circle,
Indianapolis Woman, Christian
Science Monitor, Event,
various Christian and craft
publications, and other
magazines and newspapers.
She wrote a weekly newspaper
column called “Do You
Remember?”, and wrote and
recorded a long-running series
of nostalgic radio
commercials.  Also, she is a
motivational speaker having
traveled the United States and
Canada speaking at many state
and province activity
To Order Books by Marge Knoth
A Laugh a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
by Marge Knoth

A lady finished grocery shopping, got into her car, and locked the door. Just then there
was a loud pop and she reached up to find a swishy substance on the back of her
head. A passerby noticed her sitting in the parking lot holding her hands tightly behind
her head. He told her to open the door so he could help. She said she couldn’t; she had
been shot in the head and was holding her brains in. When the rescuers arrived, they
broke into the car. Shot? It seems a can of refrigerated biscuits in the back seat had
exploded and one of them hit her in the back of the head.

Did you hear about the pastor who was tired and hungry after a day of home visits? But
he still had one more visit–to Minnie, a lively little 91-year-old mountain woman. While
talking with her, he noticed a bowl of peanuts on the table. Every time she looked away,
he grabbed a few peanuts. Finally, when it was time to go, he realized he had eaten
almost the whole bowl and felt suddenly remorseful. “Minnie,” he confessed in
embarrassment, “I’m so sorry!. I guess I have eaten almost all of your peanuts.” She
said, “Ah shucks, honey, that ain’t nothin. Since I lost my teeth, I only lick the chocolate
off anyhow.”

A little silly, for sure, but hopefully you had a good laugh. Why? Because laughter is fun.
And it’s good for you. It makes others feel good. It provides physical, emotional, and
psychological benefits.

Norman Cousin, who suffered from an illness causing inflamation of his spine and
large joints, discovered that laughter helped to reduce pain. His remarkable findings
were published in Anatomy of an Illness in 1976. Soon several medical centers
pursued the study. Here is what they found:
Laughter enhances respiration and increases the number of disease-fighting immune
cells. Dr. William Fry Jr. of Stanford Medical School compares laughter to exercise. “It
causes huffing and puffing, speeds up the heart rate, raises blood-pressure,
accelerates breathing, increases oxygen consumption, gives the muscles of the face
and stomach a workout, and relaxes muscles not involved in laughing. Twenty seconds
of laughter,” he continues, “can double the heart rate for three to five minutes. This is
the equivalent of three minutes of strenuous rowing.” Dr. Marvin E. Herring is quoted as
saying, “The diaphragm, thorax, abdomen, heart, lungs, and even the liver are given a
massage during a hearty laugh.”

Other doctors found that laughter reduces stress and eases pain, possibly by releasing
endorphins which are natural pain killers. A good laugh lowers levels of cortisol, a
stress hormone that makes us more prone to illness. Laughter also helps generate
recovery and brighten one’s outlook on life. Canadian doctors at the University of
Waterloo in Ontario found that those who valued humor the most were also most
capable of coping with tension and severe personal problems. President Abraham
Lincoln, even in the midst of the Civil War, understood laughter’s benefits. He said,
“With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.”

A Cornell University study found that people who watched a funny video were later able
to think more clearly and have more creative solutions to perplexing problems. Their
study, and others like it, found that laughter may sharpen your brain, making you more
alert and more responsive, and consequently improve your memory during periods of
stress. So what does all this mean for the activity professional? Plenty! Laughter helps
keep you in good health and spirits. It helps you be more creative and more alert. It can
brighten residents’ latter days and make them more healthful, happy, and fun to be
around. Laughter works wonders in relationships, too. Victor Borge said, “Humor is the
shortest distance between two people.”

The person who can see a speck of humor in the most trying situations is fun to be
around. A tense moment can often be broken with an appropriately-placed word of wit.
Loretta Roche, founder of The Humor Potential, a stress-management training firm, is
quoted in First magazine as saying, “We need to laugh at things and situations to
shade them down to more manageable levels. Everything has gotten way too intense
these days.”

We talked about the reason for laughter, so now let’s just do it. As an activity
professional, you can bring much laughter into your facility. Take meetings for instance.
We all have more of them than we care to attend. Why not encourage fellow employees
to liven those meetings up with a bit of humor? Suggest opening each meeting by
having attendees share the funniest...
...thing that ever happened to them
...thing that happened at a wedding
...bumper sticker
...old-time television comedy
...old-time advertising slogan.

Knowing fun awaits, no one will want to be late. And once everyone’s had a good laugh,
minds will be more alert and ready to concentrate on business.

You can also bring laughs to your facility by posting funny things like these, or adding
them to your newsletter.
* This department requires no physical fitness program. Everyone gets enough exercise
jumping to conclusions, flying off the handle, running down the boss, knifing friends in
the back, dodging responsibility, and pushing their luck.
* We the unwilling, led by the unqualified, have been doing the unbelievable for so long
with so little, we now attempt the impossible with nothing.
* According to the latest statistics, there are three-million Americans who aren’t working.
And there are even more if you count those with jobs!
* When I used to come home my wife brought my slippers and my dog came a barking.
Now things are reversed.
* Secretary to boss: “Sure I have a good reason for being late every day. It makes the day
seems shorter.”
* If your parents didn’t have any children, you probably won’t either.
* Two men in conversation:
First man: “We need to remember who wears the pants in the family.”
Second man: “Yes, and we need to remember who mends those pants!”

Involve residents in humor by breaking out a joke book every day while they await lunch.
Show funny old movies like Laurel and Hardy and Abbot and Costello. Charm them with
a “Rosanne” antic:
Rosanne: “This bugs me the worst. That’s when the husband thinks the wife knows
where everything is, huh? Like they think the uterus is a tracking device. He comes in:
‘Hey Rosanne! Do we have any Cheetos left? ‘ Like he can’t go over and lift up the sofa
cushion himself!”

Residents will probably appreciate some old-fashioned church humor. A policeman
pulled a minister over for speeding. Thinking quickly the minister said, “Blessed are the
merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” Not to be outdone, the policeman handed the
minister the ticket and said, “Go thou and sin no more!”

The following notices appeared in church bulletins:
* This afternoon there will be a meeting in the south and north ends of the church.  
Children will be baptized at both ends.
* This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Johnson to come forward and lay an egg at
the altar.
* A bean supper will be held on Saturday evening in the church basement. Music will
* The rose bud on the altar this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer,
the sin of Reverend and Mrs. Julia Belzer.
* Tonight’s sermon: ‘What is hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.
* For those of you who have children and don’t know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
* During the absence of our pastor, we enjoyed the rare privilege of hearing a good
sermon when J.F. Tubbs supplied our pulpit.
* Potluck supper: prayer and medication to follow.
* Don’t let worry kill you off, let the church help.

Or try sharing this prayer:
So far today, God, I’ve done all right. I haven’t lost my temper, haven’t been greedy,
grumpy, nasty, selfish, or over-indulgent. I’m really glad about that. But in a few minutes,
God, I’m going to get out and bed, and from then on, I’m probably going to need a lot
more help. Thank you. Amen.

How about the funny things people say at car accidents?
These appeared in the Toronto Sun and elsewhere.
* An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my vehicle, and vanished.
* The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intentions.
* My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.
* I had been driving my car for 40 years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an
* I was on the way to the doctor with rear-end trouble when my universal joint gave way
causing me to have an accident.
* The pedestrian seemed to have no idea which direction to go, so I ran over him.
* I had been shopping for plants and was on my way home. As I reached an
intersection, a hedge sprang up, obscuring my vision.
* I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over
the embankment.

I heard this: “Five Stages of the Marriage Code” while visiting a Florida church.

First year of marriage: “Baby doll, I’m worried about those sniffles you have. I’ve called
the paramedics to come and take you to the hospital for a check-up, and a week of long-
needed rest. I know you don’t like hospital food so I’ll bring your meals–pizza, Chinese,
whatever you want, three times a day.”

Second year of marriage: “Sweetheart, I don’t like the sound of that cough. I’ve arranged
for Dr. Johnson to make house call. I’m going to get someone to come in and take care
of things so you can rest. Let me tuck you into bed.”

Third year of marriage; “You look like you’ve got a fever. Why don’t you drive yourself
down to the clinic and get yourself some medicine, and I’ll watch the kids.”

Fourth year of marriage: “Look, be sensible! After you’ve fed and bathed the kids and
washed the dishes, you ought to get into bed.”

Fifth year of marriage: “For Pete’s sake! Would you stop coughing like that!” You’re giving
me a nervous breakdown!”

Here are two poems I found in some old senior citizens newsletters.

My Get up and Go.
How do I know my youth is all spent? Well my get-up-and-go has got up and went.
But in spite of it all, I’m able to grin, When I think where my get-up has been.
Old age is golden, so I have heard it said, But sometimes I wonder when I get into bed,
With my ears in a drawer, and my teeth in a cup, And my eyes on the table, until I wake
up, Ere sleep dims my eyes, I say to myself, “Is there anything else I should lay on the

And I’m happy to say as I close my door, My friends are the same, perhaps even more.
When I was young, my slippers were red, I could kick up my heels, right over my head.
When I grew older, my slippers are black, I walk to the store and puff my way back.
The reason I know my youth is all spent, My get-up-and-go has got up and went.
But I really don’t mind when I think with a grin, Of all the grand places my get-up has

Since I have retired from life’s competition, I accommodate myself with complete

I get up each morning and dust off my wits, Pick up my paper and read the “obits.”
If my name is missing, I know I’m not dead, So I eat a good breakfast and go back to

How to Know You’re Growing Older
  • Everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work.
  • The gleam in your eyes is from the sun hitting your bifocals.
  • You feel like the night before and you haven’t been anywhere.
  • Your little black book contains only names ending in M.D.
  • You get winded playing chess.
  • Your children begin to look middle-aged.
  • You finally reach the top of the ladder and find it leaning against the wrong wall.
  • You join a health club and don’t go.
  • You begin to outlive enthusiasm.
  • You decided to procrastinate, but then never get around to it.
  • Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
  • A dripping faucet causes an uncontrollable bladder urge.
  • You know all the answers but nobody asks you the questions.
  • You look forward to a dull evening.
  • You walk around with your head held high, trying to get used to your bifocals.
  • Your favorite part of the newspaper is 25 years ago today.
  • You turn out the lights for economic rather than romantic reasons.
  • You sit in a rocking chair and can’t get it going.
  • Your knees buckle and your belt won’t.
  • You regret all those mistakes resisting temptation.
  • You’re 17 around the neck, 42 around the waist, and 96 around the golf course.
  • You stop looking forward to your next birthday.
  • After painting the town red, you have to take a long rest before applying the
    second coat.
  • Dialing long distance wears you out.
  • You’re startled the first time you are addressed as “old-timer.”
  • You remember that yesterday was your wedding anniversary.
  • You can’t stand people who are intolerant.
  • The best part of your day is over when your alarm goes off.
  • Your back goes out more than you do.
  • You burn the midnight oil after 9 p.m.
  • Your pacemaker makes the garage door go up when you watch a pretty girl go
  • The little gray-haired lady you help across the street is your wife.
  • You get your exercise acting as pall-bearer for your friends who exercise.
  • You’ve got too much room in the house and not enough in the medicine cabinet.
  • You sink your teeth into a steak and they stay there.

I could entertain you for hours with funny stories, but I think you get the idea. Erwin
sums it up pretty well in Humor of a Country Lawyer. “Humor is one of God’s marvelous
gifts. Humor give us smiles, laughter, and gaiety. Humor reveals the roses and hides
the thorns. Humor makes our heavy burdens light and smooths the rough spots in our
pathways. Humor endows us with the capacity to clarify the obscure, to simplify the
complex, to deflate the pompous, to chastise the arrogant, to point a moral, to adorn a

Goodness knows, there are many cares on our shoulders as activity professionals, so
when things get boring or tense around your facility, why not try sharing some of these
things and let everyone relax and have a good laugh. God bless you all. Marge

* 250 Funniest Office Jokes, Memos, and Cartoon Pin-ups from the collection of Adam
* Hometown Humor: USA by Loyal Jones and Billy Edd Wheeler
* Head First: The Biology of Hope by Norman Cousins
* 2000 Sure-Fire Jokes for Speakers by Robert Orben
* Humorous Stories About the Human Condition by Eric W. Johnson
* The Penguin Book of Women’s Humor edited by Regina Barreca
* Lighten Up: Survival Skills for People Under Pressure by C.W. Metcalf and Roman
* Internet funnies
* Newsletters
* USA Fax Times
First magazine 9-12-94