“I’m thankful for you!” I said to a resident as she and I finished a conversation about gratitude on this day before Thanksgiving. We had talked about how it’s important to have a day where we consider the good things in life. Sure, life brings plenty of bad things, but it brings so many lovely things also. She beamed me one of her trademark grins and answered, “I’m thankful for this place. I really am. It has made such a difference in my life.”
My heart felt full to overflowing as I heard those words. The holidays are often the time when families begin to notice a loved one’s need for extra help. The senior needing help, however, doesn’t often realize or want to admit his or her need. He may feel frustrated at the loss of control. She may have unrealistic expectations about what her adult family members are able to do on her behalf as they juggle jobs and responsibilities of their own. These reasons and many more can make the transition to assisted living full of challenges and frustrating conversations. Sometimes families feel like giving up rather than keep trying to convince mom or dad of the need for help. But oh, when families persevere, and when a parent opens her heart just a tiny crack… amazing things can happen.
This day I’m grateful for those transformations. I’m grateful for lonely days turned to days full of friends and interests. I’m grateful for the pounds put on an underweight elderly person as she starts eating 3 daily meals again. I’m grateful for the friendships made and the music heard. I’m grateful for fun parties that she wouldn’t have otherwise attended and tender care she wouldn’t have otherwise had.
I’ll be spending this holiday in gratitude for this rewarding and wonderful work, and in eager expectation for those who will come to visit us through this holiday season and find a new lease on life. Happy Thanksgiving!