You're having a laugh!

LAUGHTER is the best medicine and there's nothing better than having a giggle.But are things as funny when you get old? Apparently not according to new research which alleges people lose their sense of humour as they get older.

LAUGHTER is the best medicine and there's nothing better than having a giggle.

But are things as funny when you get old? Apparently not according to new research which alleges people lose their sense of humour as they get older. JAMES MARSTON, who was just a little suspicious of the findings, investigates.

JUST because you've got a few years under your belt, it's no reason to stop laughing.

That's the message today from Ipswich's older generation.

Flying in the face of a new report which says that age affects the funny bones as well as the creaking joints, a group of pensioners are determined to keep smiling. But is humour as you age, easier said than done?

The study by conducted at the Washington University in St Louis, has indicated that people lose their sense of humour as they grow older, confirming the stereotype of the grumpy old man and woman - but according to visitors at Foxhall Day Care Centre in Parliament Road it's a load of rubbish.

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And Renee Abbott, 78, of Woodbridge Road, had a joke at hand to prove it. She said: “A man goes into a doctors surgery. he said to the doctor 'I have got a terrible stabbing pain in my eye, what can I do about it?' The doctor replies 'Go home and make yourself a cup of tea. But this time take the spoon out of the cup.'”

Researchers writing in this month's Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, from the US said the results should be taken seriously, as laughter has been linked to health benefits.

The study pitted undergraduates against a group of pensioners on their ability to finish off a number of jokes. Given the first lines, they were then asked to select one of four punchlines to see if they could get the joke.

One such example was: "A businessman is riding the subway after a hard day at the office. A young man sits down next to him and says, 'Call me a doctor, call me a doctor'. The businessman asks, 'What's the matter, are you sick?'.

The participants were expected to correctly identify the punchline as: “The young man says, 'I just graduated from medical school.”

Other options were less amusing, one of which saw the young man replying: "Yes, I feel a little weak. Please help me.'

Research found that older people tended to make more mistakes when it came to identifying the correct ending to the joke.

When it came to visual humour the gap in understanding was even greater, with young adults found to be more adept at completing cartoon strips than the rival group of older men and women.

The report's authors Wingyun Mak and Brian Carpenter said the results suggested that age may affect humour comprehension. This, they said, could be detrimental for the well-being of older people in society.

Their report noted: "During a period of life when health may be more vulnerable and social networks more limited, the physical and psychosocial benefits of humour may buffer the negative changes and enhance the positive changes that occur in the lives of the elderly.

"Of course, for people to benefit from humour, they must first understand it.”

Alan Woods, manager at the Foxhall Day Care Centre said: “I think this survey is a load of rubbish and quite derogatory to older people. It's a stereotype and like saying all young people are vandals.”

What do you think of the survey? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Connie Stammers, 81, of Tudor Court, Ipswich, said: “I don't think much to that survey, but there isn't that much to laugh at on television today. It's all police and hospitals. A lot of the nice programmes have gone.

“I used to like Ronnie Barker, he was funny and I liked him in Porridge. I liked Only Fools and Horses and Frankie Howard as well.”

Barbara Cobbold, 88, of Castle Road, Ipswich, said: “I think older people get the joke quicker than the youngsters. Age is no barrier to humour. We always have a laugh here.

“Television shows used to be more comical. I don't have a favourite now. I'd describe my sense of humour as sick, I laugh when someone does something stupid.”

Ronald Smith, 76, of King's Way, Ipswich, said: “It's a load of rubbish that you lose your sense of humour when you get older.

“I liked Only Fools and Horses and Steptoe and Son. My grandchildren and great grandchildren make me laugh nowadays; some of the things they get up to are funny.

“I like Last of The Summer Wine on a Sunday evening. I think I've got a good sense of humour.”

Len Willmott, 72, of Sturdee Avenue, Ipswich, said: “It's not true that you lose your humour. It's a load of rubbish. “Older people still have a sense of humour, we have to.

“I liked Bernard Manning when he was on television and Jimmy Cricket. Ken Dodd goes on too long. I enjoy bantering with people.”

Mike Coles, 84, of Dales Road, Ipswich, said: “I'm not a grumpy old man though some old people get like that. I like Tommy Hanley. I'm always up for devilment. I like being a prankster and practical jokes.”

Syvlia Sadler, 69, of Parliament Road, Ipswich, said: “I'm still 21 as far as I'm concerned. You never get old. Age is the state of mind of other people.

“I like My Family on television. I'm a giggler. I have a weird sense of humour. Humour helps me keep going.

Renee Abbott, 78, of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, said: “I've still got a silly sense of humour. I make people laugh. I saw Shrek III the other day which was funny and I like Lenny Henry and the Vicar of Dibley is ok. My grandchildren keep me young.

“People can lose their sense of humour as they get older, I think some people find old age depressing but not all of us.”

Bill Gilson, 93, of Princethorpe Road, Ipswich, said: “Well I'm not grumpy. If you can't crack a joke then life isn't worth living. I liked the Two Ronnie's and Morecombe and Wise, Benny Hill and Dick Emery and just like that Tommy Cooper. The people who did the survey should come here, they'll soon see we have a sense of humour.”

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