One day last month I sat down in front of the TV to watch the evening news. First I saw the frightening picture of assisted living residents sitting in waist-high water during the flooding in Texas. This story tugged at my heart because our nursing home had to evacuate several years ago due to the threat of flooding. Thankfully, the flood didn’t reach our part of town, but I still remember how frightening this experience was for residents, staff, and families.
The next news report was a horrific local story about a pregnant woman who was murdered and her baby stolen. It shook me to the core to think that something so evil happened in our typically peaceful city. At that point, I felt so overwhelmed that I had to turn off the TV.
With so many unnerving events happening in our country and in our world, it’s easy to feel discouraged. Whether we realize it or not, these events affect our residents, too. That’s why it’s so important to look beyond the darkness and make a point of experiencing gratitude.
Numerous studies demonstrate the many benefits of gratitude:
- Being grateful helps us manage stress better.
- Gratitude increases the empathy we feel for other people.
- Feelings of gratitude may boost our immune systems.
- Grateful people report feeling healthier than other people.
- We may sleep better after writing in a gratitude journal before going to bed.
- Expressing gratitude helps us overcome traumatic experiences.
- People who are grateful are happier and experience less depression.
- Grateful people tend to have better self-esteem.
Here’s how you can help your residents experience the benefits of gratitude:
- Hang a large sheet of poster board on the wall and invite residents & staff to write notes of gratitude.
- Help residents write letters thanking people who made a positive impact on their lives.
- Create gratitude journals and encourage residents to record three blessings before they go to bed each night.
- Share Bible verses about giving thanks.
- Invite residents to make daisies out of construction paper, then write one thing they’re thankful for on each petal.
- Read stories or poems about gratitude.
- Invite residents to begin a meal with a prayer of thanks.
- Make collages with pictures of things you’re thankful for. (Check out this post where I shared how you can get free magazines to use for this project.)
- Sing or listen to songs about being thankful.
- Go for a walk throughout the nursing home and find things to be thankful for: sunshine coming through a window, the happy sound of children playing in the daycare center, the scent of cookies baking in the kitchen, etc.
- Share this beautiful video with your residents: What A Wonderful World
How do you help your residents experience gratitude? I would love to see your ideas in the comment section.