This descriptive study explored how older adults view humor. It investigated the influence of place of residence, age, gender, functional ability, and perceived health status on the older adults' definition, regard, and use of humor. Sixty older adults were interviewed and responses were content analyzed. Descriptions of humor were derived and six categories of humor use were identified: connectedness, relaxation, restoration, freedom, joy, and perspective. Preferred sources of humor were identified as comical everyday-life experiences and antics of little children and pets. Receptivity to humor varied according to age, place of residence, level of health, and functional ability, but not gender. The findings provide direction for the development of tools to assess humor and for the development of valid and effective strategies to use humor therapeutically with the older adult. © 1993 W.B. Saunders Company.
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