“Have a Good Day!”

          Do you ever find yourself setting your expectations too high?  Are you guilty of striving for greatness, when in reality, “good” is all you need?  Is your calendar overflowing with appointments, to-do lists, and overwhelming or irrelevant tasks?  It is important to find ways to simplify your daily activities and highlight the simple joys in life.  At the end of the day, it’s the little things that can have a big impact on your mood and your outlook.

At any stage in life, there is a delicate balance in setting goals, while keeping realistic expectations.  Achieving these goals allows us to feel important, engaged, and productive, thus building our self-esteem and increasing our confidence.  As the saying goes, “everything gets better with age.”  However, there comes a point where this no longer holds true; studies show that seniors’ self esteem tends to take a pretty hefty hit after 65-70 years old.  As a caregiver, it is important to provide meaningful tasks and opportunities that allow our loved ones to be set up for success and happiness.

One of the best ways to highlight the goodness in your everyday life is to consciously focus on the positives of your day.  A gratitude journal is a wonderful way to make yourself more aware of the simple joys that surround you. This journaling exercise can be as basic as writing down 3 bullet points each day that document happy moments.  You can gift your loved one an attractive journal or take them to pick one out.  Be sure to place it in a prominent place in their home where it is easily accessible. When you go to visit, you can even add your own entries, to their journal, of ways that they’ve blessed you or brought joy to your life.  Make it a goal to journal daily; on days when life seems to be a struggle, reading back over your gratitude journal can provide you the encouragement to take on the day with a smile!

Another way to ensure joy and happiness in your loved one’s life is by keeping them well connected.  Set up a visitation schedule, if family and friends live nearby, or plan regular phone calls (or FaceTime chats if they are tech savvy) if you are visiting with them from afar.  These scheduled visits give your loved one something to look forward to and create a constant in their lives.  As a bonus, to help boost their esteem and make them feel important, ask them for their advice on a particular situation while you have their attention.  Getting a fresh perspective from someone older and wiser can be beneficial for both parties!

There’s no greater mood booster than helping others!  Help your loved one seek out opportunities where they can volunteer and give back to others.  Volunteering can help fight off depression, build self-confidence, create a sense of purpose, and help keep you connected and active.  There are endless ways to lend a helping hand that span all ability levels.  You can even volunteer from the comfort of your own home.  To get started, reach out to your local church or community center to find opportunities that best suit your needs.

Create a daily checklist for your loved one to help them establish a routine and complete important, and necessary, tasks.  The list should be tailored to their personal needs and abilities similar to how a professional Home Care company would list their services in a plan of care.   It is also a good reminder or communication tool for caregivers.   Eating a healthy breakfast, taking daily medications, and connecting with a family member may be just a few of the items you may place on their list.  You can also include hygiene reminders such as brushing teeth and getting a bath as part of their daily routine.  If your loved one thoroughly enjoys an early morning stroll, a hot cup of tea in the afternoon, or reading from their novel in the evening, then go ahead and add a “fun item” to their list!  Checking the items off their list helps them to create a sense of accomplishment, while also serving as a beneficial tool in creating healthy daily habits.

Our day does not need to be overfilled with task after task or packed full with activities in order to be considered a “good day.”  Joy and happiness often come from the simple things in life; our goal should be meaningful and manageable.  Help your loved ones create daily routines that highlight the goodness in their lives and provide them with opportunities to feel successful and important, while staying within their limits and fulfilling their daily needs.