Laughter: Best Medicine for Age-Old Ills

Article excerpt

Byline: Sharon La Masney Daily Herald Correspondent

"I don't think mid-life starts until you're in your mid-60s, and reaching your mid-70s brings you into what I call the 'sage stage,' " said Loretta LaRoche, international stress management consultant.

LaRoche has spent the past 30 years sharing her wit and wisdom throughout the country. Last week, she was the guest speaker at Elgin Community College's Elgin Enrichment Program. Her 90-minute presentation focused on relieving stress with humor. She refers to her life and personal anecdotes to demonstrate her "humor of stress."

"Look at life with beginner's eyes; a 4-year-old child laughs 400 times a day. Don't keep 'shoulding' on yourself with 'I should have done this' and 'I should have done that.' You have to get over something to get on with some things," says Laroche. "And most important of all, laugh more often."

Within the humor is truth and wisdom that elevate LaRoche to "sage stage" status. And even though LaRoche's humor keeps her audience laughing, her advice and insights are sound and honest.

She cited a recent study of a convent of nuns in Minnesota who have sustained mental alertness well into old age.

"The study done on these nuns found that they came together once a week as a Renaissance group and talk about all different topics and events in the news. Other mentally stimulating things were playing a musical instrument, doing crossword puzzles, learning a foreign language and taking the body in a different direction, such as getting out of bed backwards. …