HOW THE POSITIVE EFFECTS OF GRATITUDE REDUCE CAREGIVER STRESS DailyCaring, October 2020
This DailyCaring article discusses how gratitude is proven to reduce stress—from the point of view of CAREGIVERS having gratitude saying:
- Practicing gratitude can make you happier, lower stress, protect you from depression, help you sleep better, boost your immune system, and improve your relationships.
- Practicing gratitude doesn’t mean ignoring negative feelings or bad things in general, but recognizing the positive in your life, which is not terrible 100% of the time.
The article points out the benefits of recognizing the positive effects of gratitude:
- It helps you become more optimistic and improves your overall attitude,
- It helps you to respond in an optimistic attitude more naturally.
- It helps you focus on what you do have rather to avoid getting sucked into negativity.
The suggested method of practice gratitude is to keep a journal.
This is all well and good. But I must also suggest that care receivers and the other family members remember to show gratitude to the caregiver. Nobody is perfect in caregiving situations. Everyone gets cranky or critical and makes mistakes. But acknowledging the caregiver for their efforts goes a long way.
My husband and I were frontline caregivers for his mother for seven years. After she began to suffer recurrent falls, hospitalizations, and rehabilitations, she moved into our home. I quit my job and became her fulltime caregiver. This arrangement went well for the first two years, but then the inevitable decline began again, and the caregiving arrangement became increasingly difficult. My attempts to mitigate increasing needs were not well-received.
“Everything is for your convenience!” David and I tried to talk to her about her feelings, but I ended up leaving the room. I was really angry about her remark. I was sinking under the weight of caregiving, trying to find solutions to problems, and was accused of doing things for my own convenience!What to Do about Mama? pp. 21-22
For me, the greatest difficulty was the language used by my mother-in-law and Sandy, describing me as “selfish.” I could understand “obnoxious,” but “selfish” was unfair and demoralizing and totally undermined the progress we had made.What to Do about Mama? p. 28
Once again, our conversation felt strained. I asked Sandy if she needed to clear the air about anything else. Big mistake! She told me that she felt putting Mom in the nursing home for a respite stay was selfish on my part. She proceeded to tell me that, although David and I provided Mom with very good physical care, the emotional care we provided was terrible; in fact, it “sucked.”What to Do about Mama? p. 26
When my health had declined to the point that I needed two knee replacements, arrangements were made for my mother-in-law to move in with her daughter. I felt that I had not lived up to the commitment I had made, which was caused me a lot of anxiety. The Hospice Spiritual Advisor gave me an assignment, which is a great example to illustrate the theme of the DailyCaring article How the Positive Effects of Gratitude Reduce Caregiver Stress.
Blessings of Mom Living in Our Household
• Example set for our children. Our youngest daughter said, “Thank you, Mom, for taking care of my Grandma and being such a good example for me.”
• The grandchildren have had an opportunity to know and love Great Grandma. This was in contrast to Shelley’s comment that they really didn’t see their grandparents much growing up.
• I was able to give my mother-in-law the gift of my children and grandchildren. I am proud of the love, support, and appreciation they show her.
• I had the opportunity to demonstrate to my mother-in-law and siblings-in-law my appreciation for being a part of their family since I was eighteen years old. I was also able to show thanks to my parents-in-law for providing support in our times of need. Most of all, I was able to show gratitude for their assistance and encouragement in helping to provide our children with their college educations. This was to be my gift to my all of my in-laws.What to Do about Mama? p. 35