Engaging at Home™

30 Days of Gratitude

seniors staying connected
As Americans, we are familiar with practicing gratitude, especially in November. Thanksgiving often inspires us to reflect on the blessings in our lives and identify people and events for which we are grateful. As a caregiver for a person affected with dementia reminding ourselves to practice gratitude every day may be more difficult to accomplish. One thing that might help is if you and your loved one practice identifying what you are both grateful for together.  

An article published recently in the NIH National Library of Medicine titled "Doing Things Together Is What It's About" discovered that positive shared experiences benefit the caregiver as much as the person affected by dementia. Music, cognitive stimulation, nature walks, or reflecting on memories and life experiences by looking at family photo albums leads to empathic relationships and feelings of inclusion for both parties. Spending time each day thinking about what you and your loved one are grateful for is something you share that can lead to wonderful experiences.  

Practicing gratitude doesn't have to be complex. Choose a time that is best for both of you and decide what you are grateful for daily. Using a blank notebook, create a "Gratitude Journal" together. Write down what you and your loved one decide you are thankful for, and then read through all of the other days with an entry. If you or your loved one likes to draw, add illustrations or photos to the individual pages.  

The Greater Good in Action organization tells us there is no right or wrong way to keep a gratitude journal. "The goal of the exercise is to remember a good event, experience, person, or thing in your life—then enjoy the good emotions that come with it." They also recommend that we look at good things as "gifts" and savor surprises. For people with dementia seeing what they accomplished (in the journal) and hearing again the things they are grateful for are positive accomplishments. Thinking about tomorrow provides a sense of the future or, in other words, forward-looking thinking.  

In addition, expressing gratitude has been shown to do more than improve your mood. Caregivers and their loved ones who write down a few positive things about their day are healthier, more energetic, less stressed and anxious, and get better sleep. The key is to make this a regular habit and do it with intention.  

Maintaining gratitude can help you feel less stressed in your life. So can savoring your experiences. A Gratitude Journal created together expands your awareness of what is good in your life and tips the scales in your favor regarding happiness and resilience.
Engaging at Home™ provides an at-home engagement program bringing love, compassion, and validation to those affected by dementia and their families. Reach us via email at info@engagingathome.com or by calling (602) 418-5196.
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