Grateful for those who help our elders

A weekly column on aging by Graham Hookey

I always find the time around Thanksgiving a good opportunity to be reflective, with the intent of finding things for which to be grateful.

Since I have changed from writing about child care to elder care, I have found the weekly selection of topics to be more challenging.

It’s not that parenting isn’t challenging; we all know that’s a certainty.

But parenting is about helping your children speed to independence.

Elder care is about trying to slow down the speed of a downhill train.

I must confess that I am often left with a sincere sense of gratitude when I do research on the topics of elder care.

Reading the stories of others provides perspective against which one’s own difficulties can seem more an annoyance than a true obstacle.

Learning to focus our attention away from ourselves, sometimes by noticing the misfortune of others, has a way of making us recognize just how fortunate we are.

In the past year, have friends or family members passed away?

Let’s start at the beginning of gratitude.

Life is short. As each of us looks back on our life, we may all get a common feeling that it seems to be flying by. The older we get, the faster time seems to go. Thus, every day is a gift, regardless of our challenges.

Think that way and it will help you see the beauty in the sunrise and the joy in a day that can bring love, laughter and pleasant surprises.

You have to make life grand by looking for the grandness in little things.

Each day that you get up and you’re healthy, you should celebrate. Your health impacts on everything you do, and while you can make the most of every day regardless of your health, it is so much easier to do so when feeling well.

Some aspects of health are genetic, but many are based on lifestyle choices, so if you awake healthy, then live that day in a healthy manner to increase the probability that tomorrow will be a healthy day, as well.

Be good to the people around you, and especially those who love you. We are social by nature; love and companionship are important to us.

We will be treated as we treat others, so being good to others will lead to good friendships and respectful relationships with everyone.

Loving family and warm companionships are something for which we can all be grateful, but it’s something we, too, must invest some time in each day.

I’d like to add a special thought of gratefulness to all of those who provide care to the elderly, family members or not. It is not an easy task to put your own life on hold to care for a family member, nor is the job a care worker a simple one that can be walked away from on the clock.

To care for another human being takes patience, empathy and sometimes sheer physical exertion. If there is a caregiver in your life who is helping you live with dignity and a sense of purpose each day, take a moment to thank them, profoundly.

Not everyone is that fortunate.

The older we get, the more simple our appreciations become. It is no longer the things we have, but instead, the comforts we have that seem to matter the most. And there is no greater comfort than waking up each day healthy, surrounded by those who care for us and grateful for the moments of joy we can find in the hours ahead.

A single smile or laugh of a grandchild is worth its weight in gold.

Graham Hookey writes about education, parenting and eldercare (ghookey@yahoo.com).

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