The beginning of a new year is a wonderful time to stop and reflect about all the things in your life that you are thankful for. Studies show that people who spend time focused on gratitude and being thankful are happier, healthier and enjoy better relationships. Family caregivers are just one group of adults that can benefit from practicing gratitude regularly.
As a family caregiver, then you know about the highs and lows of seeing to the needs of an aging parent. Whether they live with you or you need to go to their home frequently, the daily tasks of making sure they are happy and healthy can keep you busier than ever. Even if you have a home care aide to lighten the load, you are still emotionally and psychologically focused on your aging mom or dad.
It’s not uncommon for family caregivers to experience burnout, stress, anxiety and depression. Exercising gratitude is just one way that you can drive negative thoughts away and bring more balance to your life.
When you focus on being grateful for the things you encounter every day that bring you happiness, you affect your way of thinking from negative to positive. Studies show that grateful people are more likely to be optimistic and have a better attitude. People with an attitude of gratitude generally experience better mental and physical health. That’s because positive thinking results in the body’s ability to handle stress and the results include better sleep, a stronger immune system and fewer aches and pains.
Because family caregivers often report that their health suffers when they are providing care for an elderly relative, they need every boost they can get.
There are plenty of ways that you can develop thankfulness in your life and regularly acknowledge gratitude. The best way is to sincerely thank people in your life that influence you or assist you in any way. This goes beyond just saying thanks, but making an effort to communicate how much they mean to you.
Another exercise that is popular is keeping a gratitude journal. With a notebook and pen, you record the things you are grateful for and write about what makes you happy, as well as pleasant events from your week. When you list all the things you are thankful for, it has a powerful effect on mood and outlook.
Finally, family caregivers should develop an attitude of gratitude because it has an effect on others around them. Not only will home care aides, family members, co-workers and strangers be influenced by your positive mood, but your elderly mom or dad will too. At a time in their life when they are possibly feeling frustrated, dependent, frightened, lonely or depressed, you can be the example of resilience and strength for them. Your increased empathy will shine through and your sensitivity will help them feel at ease.
All in all, people across the country should develop a more thankful outlook on life, but family caregivers are in a special situation where they have a lot to be grateful for. As they reap the benefits of expressing thanks and recognizing positive events, family caregivers can have a real effect on many others in their sphere of influence.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Caregiver Services in McKeesport PA, please call and talk to the caring staff at Extended Family Care of Pittsburgh at (412) 693-6009. We will answer all of your questions.
Laura has earned her MBA in Health Care Administration from Canisius College, a Bachelor of Science degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is currently a CPR/First Aid Instructor for the American Red Cross. Laura has sat on three Professional Advisory Committees throughout the community, has been on the Board of Directors for a non-profit nursing home, currently acts as an Advisory Board Member for the Allegheny County Respite Care Coalition, Gateway Health Plan, and the North Allegheny School District Elementary Advisory Council. She is also an active committee member of the Southwestern PA Partnership on Aging, Twilight Wish Foundation and Marshall Elementary Yearbook Committee.
Raising four active children with her husband Brian, she seems to spend more time on baseball and soccer fields than she does at home which helps her appreciate their family vacation time even more.