It goes without saying that gratitude makes us all healthier and it shouldn’t be reserved only for the holiday season. Now that we’ve said what goes without saying, we’ll also acknowledge that it is easy to get caught up in the busy-ness of life and the stress and logistics—so much so, that we temporarily forget about what we are grateful for. That’s one reason we love the holidays: it helps us to remember gratitude and return to that more peaceful place.
Sadly, as our loved ones age, we find ourselves navigating changing roles and they find themselves more alone, or feeling like they have less control over their lives. It’s common for the elderly to also question their value within their family and greater community as they find that they are less independent and can’t do all that they used to do. Often, they have to let go of things they love. We all know how hard that can be. So, showing gratitude to our seniors is really important and can make a positive difference for all of us. It also doesn’t take a lot to show that gratitude:
1) Write a note. What’s that you say? Write a note? We know, most of us function on texts and emails these days. When was the last time you hand-wrote a thank you note? Remember that our elderly are often still very much engaged in a world that doesn’t rely on digital technology. Take five minutes, sit down and write them a note that focuses simply on one aspect of who they are and why you appreciate it. Maybe they give you great insight into how to handle relationships. Maybe they are always happy to see you. Maybe they have a talent that constantly impresses you. Regardless, that five minutes you give to the note could easily make the difference between a good day and a bad day for them.
2) Hugs. Sadly, as people age, they can sometimes become more isolated from physical affection. Whether those close to them are gone, or they see loved ones less—it’s likely that they get far fewer hugs than they used to. We all know how beneficial hugs can be. So, give a hug, for no reason at all. Of course, it’s important to honor an individual’s physical boundaries, so if your elderly loved one is not a “hugger” maybe a pat on the back or a squeeze of the hand is enough.
3) Embrace the little surprises. You probably know one or two little things that the senior in your life appreciates or loves. Why not surprise them with one of those things one day? You don’t need to wait for an occasion, you just need to recognize when they could use a boost or just when you are inspired to give. Flowers? Tickets to a performance? Their favorite tea? The possibilities are endless and the joy will carry you both for a surprising amount of time.
4) Give them time. We’ve mentioned this before, but one of the gifts that our elders give us is a reminder to slow down. They can’t or don’t want to move as quickly as they used to, and therefore, exercising patience AND presence is a great way to show them gratitude. Make time to spend with them and take the time to tell them why you love them or why they are important to you.
5) Help to cultivate gratitude. Maybe your loved one has had a lot of recent health problems. Maybe they are frustrated because they can’t get around as well as they used to. It’s helpful to validate their concerns and frustrations, but it’s also helpful to help them shift attention to aspects of life they can be grateful for. Of course, this is something that requires sensitivity to sounding overly optimistic or patronizing. But, even if you take the time to observe what you appreciate about their surroundings, it can help to lighten the load.
At Midnight Sun Home Care, we understand the importance of motivating and inspiring our senior loved ones. Through relationship building and active listening, the professional Anchorage AK caregivers at Midnight Sun Home Care take great care to understand each individual we serve and give the gift of time and gratitude.
Thanks for reading and for being there for our elderly. It makes all the difference.