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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.

A friend of the couple who founded Home Instead Senior Care, Mary Maxwell was asked to give the invocation at the company's 2009 Convention. 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 franchise owners 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
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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. April 23, 2012 at 11:52 am | Posted by Janice

    Thank you for posting this online! Made my day and a wonderful reminder that a good sense of humor beats any medicine any day! I am 78 and loving every moment . God is so good and I thank Him for a long, happy and fun life!


  2. April 23, 2012 at 5:10 am | Posted by james terrell

    May weall grow old as gracefully as this dear lady. This is for Malcolm. There IS a God-----hope you come to know Him , before itis too late.


  3. April 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Posted by Kathleen Delaney

    I'm 75 and I found my car. With a little help, I must admit. I have only one leg, go to the Y 2 times a week for Silver Sneakers strength and weight training, and another 2 time for water therapy. Live alone with my little dog, unless my grandkids are here, and write mysteries. Have 4 in print, and my agent says a major NY publisher is interested in the new series I have in progress. Personal goal, other than getting this series sold, is to go to England, Spain, Portugal and back to France next fall. Must remember to renew my passport. I'll write myseslf a note, but I won't put it up on the mirror. Never was that woman before in my life.


    • April 21, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      I LOVE your story--what a woman! I'm 78 and will use you and your upbeat way of living for continuing inspiration for my own life. Wish I could go with you in your travels! Of course if I don't follow your example of healthy self-care by going to the Y, etc. I don't think I could keep up with you. :-) It's time for me to get started again indoors as it will soon be hot to exercise outdoors here in Florida. (It's so easy to make excuses for not doing the work). I'm so happy to read about you and your positive attitude (and actions) in spite of some personal challenges!


  4. April 13, 2012 at 2:39 am | Posted by Anne Damasco Ripepi

    I stopped thinking about my age and many other things when I became widowed. This led into lying about my children's age so no-one could guess my age. It is now 34 years later . Circumstances required admitting my age to a few people earlier this year. Their shock was impressive. I should never have done it. Their admiring glances and attitude are a constant reminder of my age. The mirror is now also telling tales. Each day I anticipate new I'm keeping Alzheimers at bay. Challenges?. When will I get cataracts, a hearing aid and a new set of teeth? It's a big worry. In the meantime? I'm dropping one organization to give that time to the presidential election and setting another one night a week to go line dancing . It's for excercize and to keep my Weight Watcher instructor happy. Now I've been thinking about companionship and marriage for my old age. Strange isn't it? What will I do evenings when I don't drive? Everything would be better with a companion of choice. Which of the presidential candidates would be sympathetic enough to look into the legal and financial aspects, make marriage and mutual home car financially manageable for seniors past 75.? What can I do to help make those later years worthy of living.instead of the alternative? Anyone listening? Every day there are more of us.


    • April 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Posted by anna akins

      Amen, Anne, Amen!


    • April 21, 2012 at 10:50 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      I'm listening and share many of your thoughts and concerns. I've been telling people for some time now that my children are older than I am!!! Actually I feel and think at about the same age as my children even though I am 78 and they are in their fifties. Most of the people I identify with and have as friends are in the age range of my children as well. Recently someone wise told me to not tell anyone how old I am and then no one will know that I'm too old to be their best friend(s). Why didn't I think of that myself for my own protection?! By-the-way I certainly hope you will vote for Obama in November!!! I see only dreadful outcomes for the alternatives and believe that Obama is our answer for much better times to come in the future.


  5. April 11, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Posted by Hattie Eklund

    After being a widow for 13 years, I married again at the age of 78. I am now an active 87 year old. When I see pictures of me and my beautiful great grandchildren, can't help but wonder who the heck is that old lady with my great grandkids. I'm thinking when I get to heaven by first husband won't even recognize me.


    • April 21, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      I LOVED your story! If I am widowed I would hope to have a similar experience and attitude as you!!! Keep up the good work. No doubt your first husband will think you look terrific! :-)


  6. April 11, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Posted by T.C. Chesney

    I am eighty nine and retired at fifty, Several job after retiring. Published 3 books,Whos-woh in poetrry, started singing att three and if my teeth would stay place I could continue to sing. One song published in Nashville. Had to stop playing golf a few years. We travelled a lot, Australia, Germany and France and took several cruises. Love to meet new people and always strike up a conversion. Love to tell stories about my few years in the US Navy Love life but not afraid to die. Have fun. TC


    • April 21, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      My sentiments exactly about life and dying--and living in general! I'm a little younger than you but hope to make it to 89 and beyond with the same attitude and joy of living as you have so nicely shared. Thank you!


  7. April 11, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Posted by John Constantine

    77 and soon 53 years of marriage. My wife paid me a beautiful suggestion when she suggested that when I die I should make it known that my brain be used as a transplant. Surprised, I aked her why she made that beautiful and loving suggestion. Her reply was, "because it has never been used." I love my wife so much.


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      It sounds like you and your wife enjoy life together! I am 77 and have been married to my husband for 56 years. Isn't it wonderful that there are couples like us around and still together. My son and daughter-in-law have been married 30 years. I hope we can all maintain as good humor as you have because it certainly helps couples over the rough spots. May you have many more happy years together!


  8. April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Posted by Jean

    I will be 87 yrs.old in 2 wks.Twice a week I take warm water classes for arthritis for an hour, then play beach volleyball in the water for another hour(sometimes 2 hrs.) and then walk the treadmill for i mile(sometimes)2 mile. Had 5 by passes 6 yrs. ago, and back fusion 20 yrs. ago. I think the exercises has helped me to live this long. I have taken the water classes for 19 yrs. Try it, you will like it.


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      I, too, love water exercises. Your record, however, is much better than mine and is very inspiring. You sound like a wonderful and dedicated survivor to me. Thank you for sharing your incredible story--and more power to you!


  9. April 4, 2012 at 1:38 am | Posted by Ruth D.

    LIke my mind, the comment here has gone blank.


  10. April 4, 2012 at 1:37 am | Posted by Ruth D.

    Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most.


  11. April 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Posted by DEL

    This is refreshing; why should we as senior citizens roll over and die? I too believe in staying active and wouldn't have to work a lick. I believe if I stopped I WOULD DIE. God gave us talents to use. I have been asked soooo many times when I will retire. My answer, when God is ready. I volunteer at numerous Church functions, enjoy my family of wife, 3 maried sons, seven grandchildren. I have a "Spoiled" Black Lab, he & I walk every morning and evening (in cold of winter and heat of summer). My Therapy for life - Vegetable and flower gardening, yard work, etc. Again, when will I retire? GOD only knows. And, yes, I am a "Senior" citizen in chronological age; however, not in mind (Well hopefully not)!!!.


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      Good for you! You sound like my kind of guy! I bet your wife and family think so, too. Keep up the good work!


  12. April 2, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Posted by Kim Yearwood

    I am 74. Since I retired 10 years ago, I have participated in 10 plays, having the lead in two of them. i learned to tap dance 9 years ago and perform frequently with another gal who is 80. I just bought a new car and also ride a Yamaha scooter. I ride my bicycle to church also. I just tilled my garden and planted several vegetables, which I will can or freeze when harvested. I attend two Bible classes, sing in the church choir, am a member of a Master Chorale, and direct a14 piece senior band which plays for dances and other functions. I do my own housework, cook every day, trim about 15 bushes once a month and care for 3 dogs and 2 cats. I like to go to ballroom dances and manage to learn the choreography in the musical theater productions as well as learn skits and perform in a senior comedy club. I also participate in Toastmasters International and as a two year member I have earned 4 awards. I hope to continue to do all these things as long as I have my mind and a reasonably sound body.


  13. April 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Posted by Ruth Foster

    I belong to Foster Grandparent Program ..., this is great!


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      Fabulous! I know there is at least one child who is benefitting from your love and caring! And I bet that you are also more satisfied with life for being a Foster Grandparent. Thank you for sharing.


    • May 11, 2012 at 9:29 am | Posted by Sandesh

      Dear Dr. Kristi,My coworker alwyas wants to play chess, chat about some cool web site, or show me some youtube video when I am trying to work. How do I nicely either tell them to let me work, or quickly put up with their interrupting banter.


  14. April 2, 2012 at 10:34 am | Posted by Judi Bryant

    My mother turned 100 on February 13th. Your video opened my eyes to not only laughter but a to know I need more patience and tolerance. To realize the things mom does are not done to aggravate me but because God is reminding us she was once a wonderful vivacious mother and is now our turn to reverse the roll and care for her, Thank you.


    • April 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Posted by Malcolm

      God? God who? Maybe you mean Santa Clause.


    • April 16, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Posted by Pearl Tims

      You are so right. What a blessing to have had your Mom for 100 years. My Mom will be 97 in November.


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      Lovely! Having been a caretaker myself to elderly parents I came to see it as a privelege. Now that they are no longer living I miss them more than I can express. You will no doubt find this to be true as well when your mother is no longer living. My mother was ready to go long before her "time came" and I began to understand the challenges of needing care because of no longer being able to care for oneself. Blessings to you in your caretaking role with your mother.


  15. April 1, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Posted by Lillian Joyes

    I feel like the person who said she does not recognize the person in the mirror. I will be 80 come this September and I DO NOT feel like that. I ask...WHAT has happened to me?????? I am a stranger in my own body....What a--LET DOWN.----I still have all my own marbles (brains to the unenlightened) my own teeth/hair/ wear glasses (have since I was 4 years old) hearings a bit on the fritz...don't need any help to get around...still drive my car.(no tickets for any thing either.. (just been damn lucky I guess) can control most of my bodily functions (most of the time)..Moved away...came back 30 years later...all my old friends and neighbours have gone to ground (that is died/buried for the unenlightened) So I ask myself..WHO IS THIS STRANGER IN THE MIRROR??? Will I ever get to know her??? She seems to be a really nice person and intelligent too. Lillian


    • April 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Posted by Jean Scott

      I am about the same age as you and have found that service to others is the best thing I can do for myself! I volunteer for our local Hospice and am involved in other activities, too, that are stimilating for me. There is so much available if I avail myself of it! Sometimes I get the same kind of feelings when I look in the mirror. That's the time when I practice saying "I love you" to that image and feel grateful that I'm still here and can give to others. There's nothing like doing that to both learn more about myself and forget about my ego-self as well. Life is wonderful and satisfying when I let it!


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