Six Benefits of Practicing Gratitude for Seniors
Seniors are often thought to be in a stage of life where they can pursue rest, reflection, and hobbies that careers and raising a family limited them from practicing. Unfortunately, growing older is not always picture perfect. With age, comes a decline in health, loss of friends and family, and sometimes financial hardship. What was once easy can be very cumbersome for seniors living with arthritis, limited mobility, chronic illness, or memory impairment. According to the American Psychological Association, these, and other concerns often give way to negative emotions, such as anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
While aging is inevitable, feelings of sadness and despair need not to be a part of the process. Numerous studies have shown the correlation between practicing gratitude and experience greater happiness, despite one’s circumstances. Giving thanks can transform a senior’s life. Here are just a few benefits seniors can experience when they practice gratitude, along with ways to cultivate more gratitude in your life.
Being grateful does wonders for one’s health. Many seniors suffer from chronic illness, pain, insomnia, and feelings of depression. Practicing gratitude leads to better sleep, less depression, and helps with chronic illness. It reduces headaches, eases pain, and is a great way to cope with stress. Grateful seniors are more likely to exercise regularly and choose healthier foods, which is yet another boost to their health. Want to start reaping these health benefits today? Start a gratitude journal and commit to writing just three things you are thankful for each day.
Practicing gratitude increases social connections and strengthens current relationships. Those who have a habit of being grateful look for the good in others, instead of focusing on their negative attributes. They’re more pleasant to be around, so family and friends want to visit. They are more likely to say “hello” to a stranger in the store or step up to volunteer where help is needed. This leads to a senior who is more connected socially, therefore they feel less isolated and lonely. Give the gift of appreciation by writing a gratitude letter to a good friend or family member. You’ll strengthen your relationship with that person while reminding them of their significance in your life.
Expands Life’s Meaning
Many seniors find it difficult to find purpose for their lives after retirement and/or after all the kids have flown the nest. Cultivating gratitude helps a senior view the bigger picture. When they choose to be grateful for the little things, they can get a sense for their overarching life’s purpose. They can see their hard work in raising a family as they watch their own children parent in a loving manner. They can enjoy the fruits of their labor by giving to others out of abundance. Practice gratitude by intentionally saying “thank you” to the people you encounter throughout your everyday routine. Make it personal by expressing something specific. Tell the deli counter staff you appreciate the way they slice your ham just right. Tell the waitress you see each week how much you appreciate how she keeps your coffee warm and filled.
Many seniors worry about their brain health. Practicing gratitude can help improve memory. Grateful people are more likely to recall past experiences in a more positive manner. They savor the good times and are better equipped to cope when hard times come their way. Want to work on improving your memory while practicing gratitude? Start the day with a little memory game. As you sip your first cup of coffee, spend a few minutes reflecting on the previous day. Come up with ten things you are grateful for that happened yesterday. Bonus points to those who don’t have a duplicate on their list for the entire week.
Increases Spiritual Connection
Grateful seniors report a deeper sense of spiritual connection. After all, being grateful is one way to connect to a higher power. It immediately lifts you out of the troubles of this world and directs your heart and mind to the spiritual realm. For many seniors, practicing gratitude reminds them of their true identity and fills them with hope and faith. Whatever your religious background and however you pray, spend the first few minutes of your prayer in a spirit of gratitude.
Finally, gratitude builds self-esteem. Similar to how seniors experience a lull in their life meaning post retirement, many seniors struggle with low self-esteem in their later years. Change in appearance can contribute to this, as well as feeling neglected by their adult children or other family members due to being busy with their own families. Practicing gratitude helps seniors stay grounded, reminds them that they are valuable, and reduces social comparison. Need to build your self-esteem? Purchase visual cues, such as block letters, to add to your home decor to remind you to be grateful each day.
Visiting Angels Sarasota would like to take a moment to thank our current clients and their families for choosing us to be their in-home care service provider. We work with each of our clients so they receive the special treatment they deserve. Each client receives a customized plan of care that meets their individual needs. As their needs change over time, so do our care plans. We can assist many seniors so that they can remain safely and independently in the comfort of their own home. Contact us today and schedule your free in-home care assessment today. Getting started with us is a simple as that.