Those two words seem discordant at first glance. Once we have a diagnosis or at least medical recognition of memory changes, we have reality confirmed. The signs we have been seeing are no longer in our imagination. Reality stills any allusions you might have that your life will return to normal. Abundance you once had has turned to scarcity.
As Thanksgiving approaches, the theme of gratitude is prevalent. We think back to holidays past and savor the memories but find it hard to feel grateful for the present. Our loved ones may not be able to tolerate the traditions once held. Our caregiving demands may be depleting our physical and spiritual strength.
Research has shown an increase in well-being simply by practicing gratitude, regardless of circumstances.1 It has been suggested listing a few things you are grateful for can reduce depression and increase resilience. Well-being and resilience are commodities well worth pursuing as a dementia caregiver.
Equally positive in research is reminiscence. Even though dementia has changed your relationship with your loved one, reminiscing on sweet times past can help lighten the scarcity today. Re-looking at photos or simply visualizing a time when you were happy together can add abundance to a day.
1.Wood, A. M., Froh, J.J. & Geraghty, A. W. A. (2010). Gratitude and well-being: A review, Clinical Psychology Review, 30: 890-905.