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A Reminder That Laughter is the Best Medicine


Watch as this very funny lady reminds us that laughter is the best medicine.

Did you know that laughter has an effect similar to antidepressants? 

Laughing activates the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, the same brain chemical affected by the most common types of antidepressants, SSRIs. It’s not clear from the research how long this effect sticks around, but the burst of brain activity laughing triggers is undoubtedly potent, at least for short periods of time.

There are other benefits as well including fostering brain connectivity and forming social bonds.

That might be why Mary Maxwell’s popular convention invocation has made the trek around the viral world. Maxwell, a friend of Home Instead co-founders Paul and Lori Hogan, was asked to give the invocation at one of the company's conventions. Initially it seemed like a normal prayer, but it soon took a very funny turn. Her deadpan delivery and lines like . . .This is the first time I've ever been old . . . and it just sort of crept up on me . . . soon had the attendees rolling in the aisles. With the timing of a professional comedian, Mary shines a very funny light on the foibles of aging, to the delight of this audience of senior-care experts.

Download a copy of the poem, Blessed In Aging (PDF 275KB), which Mary reads at the end of her prayer.

Download a transcript of this Mary Maxwell video (PDF)

A Reminder That Laughter is the Best Medicine

Mary Maxwell, Posted July 26, 2010

Lori Hogan:
Before dinner is served I would like to invite our dear friend Mary Maxwell to the podium. We are so happy that she can be here tonight, and we are honored to have her deliver tonight's invocation. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Mary Maxwell.

(clapping and hug on stage)

Mary Maxwell:
Ladies and Gentlemen, as a new client of Home Instead and friend and former neighbor of Lori and Paul Hogan. I am so honored to have been chosen to invocation this evening. So let us pray.

God, our father, you know all that Home Instead believes in and strives for. And we ask your blessing on the Home Instead family, the management, the staff, the caregivers, and the clients. We are grateful for the way everyone here tonight contributes to the success of the mission of Home Instead. And we ask you to continue to bless them and this food which we are able to recieve. Amen.

Un oh sorry God, as long as I have the microphone (clapping and laughter).

There are a few things I forgot to mention. First of all, just to introduce myself, a little. Over the years I have noticed the two things that most people want to know about you, are things that they are far to polite to ask. So lets get that out of the way. I'm 72 years old and I weigh a hundred and forty five pounds. As you know we seniors are sometimes not very likable, let alone lovable. So Lord could you please continue to keep the people at Home Instead patient and aware of why we are the way we are.

And Lord please remind them that the thing about old age is that you do not get a chance to practice. This is the first time I have ever been old, and it just sort of creeped up on me. There were signs, random hair growth, that's special. Partially that first time you go to brush that hair off your lapel and discover it is attached to your chin. You turn your left turn signal on in the morning and leave it on all day. Non-life threatening skin growths large enough to name after diseased pets and related begin to appear. And neck tissue seems to develop a life of it's own. Last November, I was afraid to leave the house Thanksgiving week. (pause) Aren't you quick.

You do strange things as you age, like driving up to a curb side mailbox and ordering a cheeseburger and fries. And Lord, I know you are aware that one Sunday at church I put my Dillard's bill in the collection basket by mistake. And last Easter, after services at St. Silica's Cathedral here on Omaha, my husband stopped to talk to a friend and I went out and got into the car to go home. The gentlemen sitting behind the wheel said, "Oh are you going home with me?" And I said, "Oh Archbishop, I am
so sorry."

I won't even mention driving into the wrong end of the car wash. People get so excited when you do that. I don't know why the lady in the other car was screaming like that. I was just as surprised to see her as she was to see me. I also won't mention discovering that you are wearing miss matched earrings, and going home to change them and ending up wearing the other mismatched pair. And you know Lord that it is hard for old people to exercise. I did try to jog once, but it makes the wine just jump right out of your glass.
Well Lord, you understand seniors and their care and so does Home Instead and I have used before a poem that I found in a local retirement home newsletter that I have always thought spoke volumes about Home Instead.

(Adapted from the poem, Blessed In Aging by Esther Mary Walker)

Blessed are they who understand,
My faltering step and shaking hand
Blessed, are they who know my ears today,
Must strain to hear the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know,
My eyes are dim and my wits are slow
Blessed are they who look away,
When I spilled coffee at table day.
Blessed are they, with cheery smile,
Who take the time to chat for a little while
Blessed are they who know the ways,
To bring back memories of yesterdays.
Blessed are they that make it known
That I am loved, respected and not alone.
Just like you, to Us it is Personal.

That's Home Instead Lord, bless them all and at the end of the evening please help me find my car in the parking lot. Amen.

Watch the video,

Visit to discover more wit and wisdom from Mary Maxwell,
as well as expert advice from Dr. Amy D'Aprix and other videos, articles, and
resources for family caregivers.

Brought to you by Home Instead

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. September 21, 2020 at 6:14 pm | Posted by Dong Korn

    excellent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector don't notice this. You must continue your writing. I am confident, you've a great readers' base already!


  2. December 15, 2019 at 9:59 pm | Posted by leonard b seward

    Mary, Loved your stories, I have to be careful how I watch? The first I time I saw you I fell off the edge of the bed and had to call Local Firemen to lift me So now I have to strap myself in my wheel chair so I wont fall out<' yesterday was my 93rd Birthday never been there before anyway hope there are more, Thanks for the joy you give


  3. November 23, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Posted by Doris Sumnicht

    Glad thatI found you (again) and would like to be on your mailing list. At nearly 85 I enjoy other people's perspectives and shared views on life.


  4. August 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm | Posted by virginia belle

    Could you help me get the sound on a video I wish to view? Thank you


    • August 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Posted by Home Instead

      We'd be happy to help troubleshoot. Were you trying to listen to Mary Maxwell's funny prayer video? Try viewing using this link: and let us know if you are able to get audio. Thanks!


  5. August 21, 2017 at 1:48 pm | Posted by virginia belle

    I am not getting sound on things I want to watch. What am I doing wrong. Please help.


  6. March 2, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Posted by kathleen

    I would love to hear more of Mary Maxwell's videos. I am still laughing over this one above. thank you.


  7. April 21, 2016 at 1:47 am | Posted by Lou Ann Bowlin

    I am a new site director of our senior center, would like different short stories or jokes to share after making announcements at our dinners. would like to read your stories or thoughts, tell me where to read some of your works couldn't download your info. Thanks I am 73 yrs old


    • April 22, 2016 at 11:59 am | Posted by Home Instead

      Hi, Lou Ann, You can enjoy many of Mary Maxwell's funny comments right here on the Caregiver Stress website: She's quite a treasure!


  8. April 4, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Posted by Nancy J Winterbottom

    Very refreshing, to see humor used to explain some of the difficulties our elder citizens go through on a daily basis. I hope when I reach her age, I can keep as much humor in my daily routine.


  9. January 8, 2016 at 6:47 pm | Posted by steven tavlin

    funny and moving.


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