Practicing Gratitude

From “Family Solutions for Care” 

There is a direct and known correlation between practicing gratitude and increased happiness, as well as health improvement.  This can be especially true and important for the elderly.  It’s not always easy to be grateful, especially in challenging times, but learning to see the good in even the smallest circumstances can have a profound impact on the lives of seniors.  While aging is inevitable, feelings of sadness and distress do not need to be part of the process. Whatever your situation, there are small ways to be grateful that will have a big impact on one’s  daily life as well as in relationships with others.  

How Seniors Can Practice Gratitude on Their Own 

The easiest way to cultivate gratitude is by putting pen to paper.  Begin by creating a list. The goal of practicing gratitude is to focus on the positive things of your life. Begin with one to five things and see what happens from there.  For example, you might write  The sun came out today,’ or ‘the clerk at the grocery store was especially nice today.’ You may have more to write some days than others, but as you persist you will begin to see some of the amazing benefits: physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

How Daily Gratitude Lists Can Help Seniors Combat Depression 

Seniors who practice gratitude will notice an improvement in their health.  Practicing gratitude has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce headaches, and improve sleep.  Practicing gratitude helps take the focus off an aging body, and emphasize what value we have.  Grateful people are more likely to recall past experiences positively.  It may be helpful to jot down good memories.  Those who have a habit of being grateful look for the good in others.  This makes people more enjoyable to be around.  

How Families and Friends Can Help the Elderly Maintain An Attitude of Gratitude 

It’s important that close friends and family show the elderly that they are valued.  Experience alone usually means the elderly have wisdom and insight.  Keep a routine by taking a friend or loved one to lunch each week, or at regular intervals, and make it a point to talk about things for which you can be grateful.  Develop lists together.  Ask the elderly what valuable lessons they have learned from hard situations.   If meeting in person is not possible, perhaps it is possible to help someone learn to use technology for communicating.  Remember to use kind words and tell the elderly person why you are grateful for them.  Celebrating their gifts and talents is a good way to help keep their spirits high.  

Gratitude goes a long way toward mental, physical, and spiritual well-being; not just for the elderly, but for all of us. 

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