For many of you this Thanksgiving may be the first time you’ve been able to get together with family and friends. Now that’s something to be thankful for!
However, for those of you are caring for a loved one who has been diagnosed with dementia, these are truly trying times. Even more so with the pandemic continuing to threaten those all-important gatherings and the many hugs that were sacrificed to social distancing last year.
So it can be especially challenging to take a day to think about all that you are thankful for. What you may not be aware of, however, is that stopping to identify those things in your life you are grateful for actually has therapeutic value. A Harvard research study revealed that:
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships.”
With that in mind, here are a few recommendations from professional therapists and other family caregivers to help you tune into a more “thankful” side of your daily life.
- Get good at “taking a deep breath” and giving thanks. People who tend to see the glass as “half full” have gotten good at understanding that things could always be worse. Take a deep breath when things go wrong and focus on what you have, rather than what you don’t have. It will help you substitute positive thoughts for negative ones.
- Identify small things to be thankful for. Of course, on some days this is easier to do than other days. So make an effort to keep your daily thankful moment to something really small, like being thankful for an hour of peace and quiet. As you get better at this exercise, you’ll find it easier to identify those small blessings that may have been missed before.
- Build a “collection” of positive thoughts. They aren’t hard to find on the internet. You might be surprised at how quickly a quote or thought from an inspiring source can lift your spirits. Find a place to keep them handy. Share them with others who may be experiencing challenging situations.
Developing a fresh, more thankful mindset doesn’t happen overnight. Learning anything new takes time and a consistent effort. And reinforcement helps as well.
There are many resources available to help family caregivers better understand their challenges and find ways to meet them, while preserving your sense of wellbeing and protecting your health. Consider contacting one of our Anthem Memory Care communities and ask about our dementia support groups. There you can share your thoughts and struggles with others in similar situations as well as get insights from our professional therapists.
Whichever way you plan to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, know that there is always something to be grateful for…if you look for it. Take some time to identify the “thanks” in your Thanksgiving. It might make all the difference.
(At Anthem Memory Care, we’re so thankful for everyone inside our communities. That includes not only residents but our amazing staff members. The top image is of a resident and staff member of Chisholm Place Memory Care in Wichita, Kansas!)