How can gratitude help the elderly and workers in assisted living communities better their mental health, specifically due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown?

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Background

The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown has had an impact on the elderly, workers, and assisted living communities in many different ways. I have categorized these negative impacts into two categories: 1, Isolation and loneliness, and 2, Stress. The goal for my project is to try to help the elderly and workers in assisted living communities ease these negative impacts on their mental health through gratitude and gratitude practices.

Isolation and Loneliness

One way COVID-19 has affected the elderly is through isolation. Due to safety restrictions for everyone’s safety, the elderly in assisted living communities are often constricted to their room without being able to see or talk to anyone. In addition, family visits have become harder as well. A friend I interviewed explained that due to restrictions and safety, her family has not been able to visit her dad, who lives in an assisted living community, as regularly as before. She explains that her dad often feels lonely.

Stress

The lockdown has also impacted the workers in the assisted living communities through stress. Workers are often taking care of multiple elderly patients at once, resulting in a lack of attention towards the elderly and added stress for the workers. This is on top of having to wear protective gear and having to come to work with the stress of contracting the virus. 


What is Gratitude?

Gratitude can be defined as “an emotion, a mood, a moral virtue, a habit, a motive, a personality trait, a coping response, and a way of life”. All in all, gratitude is about being grateful and noticing why you’re grateful. Practicing gratitude has many benefits: positive emotions are increased and gratitude can improve your health. When gratitude is practiced, the brain releases dopamine and serotonin, causing positive emotions such as optimism, motivation, hope, and empathy. Gratitude even lessens depression, anxiety, and envy. Gratitude is also great for your health. It can lower your blood pressure, lower your levels of cortisol (a stress hormone), and strengthen your immune system.


For Now

My response, for now, has to do with gratitude and gratitude practices. In an attempt to help the elderly feel less lonely and the workers less stressed, I have created The Happy Book. This book, written by me, includes an explanation of how to use gratitude and gratitude practices to your advantage, five different gratitude practices with descriptions, gratitude prompting questions, and a mapping out plan including a weekly calendar. When creating this book, I kept in mind my target audience (the elderly and workers) and what I thought would be most helpful for them. I wanted to include different strategies for gratitude that could help better their mental health. I plan on sending a pdf version of my book to local assisted living communities.

How Can You Make An Impact?

There are many ways you can make a difference. One way is by calling or zooming elderly members at local assisted living communities and simply talking to them. Another way to help could be writing letters to the workers or elderly members. You can also talk to your local assisted living community to see if there are any other ways you can help.


Feedback 

I would love it if you could provide any kind of feedback for my project! You can do so by filling out this google form. Thank you so much for taking the time to provide feedback, I appreciate it!


Works Cited Google Doc

4 Comments

4 comments

  1. Caroline_524

    Hi Natalia! I really enjoyed your project, it’s unique from the focus group to your active solution. I would have never have thought about elderly mental health as a focus group for positive psychology, but now that you have brought it up I might send this to my Nana. I really enjoyed your booklet. The formatting is clean and easily transferable as it is nice to read on the computer, phone and could be printed into pamphlets. I would love to see some of the Happy Book more on the WordPress page too, just as a snapshot. How do you think this booklet would be received in elderly populations and care homes? Would this be applicable to hospital patients too? Why or why not?

    1. Avatar

      Hi Caroline! Thank you so much for the nice comment! I’m happy that my project was informative. Also, thank you for the feedback about adding more pictures of my book, I definitely agree. To answer your questions, I think the elderly and care homes will receive this well, as my interviewee explained that this would be helpful. I feel that it might not be as useful to hospital patients, as hospital patients are often only in the hospital temporarily. Thank you for the questions!

  2. Maja

    Hi Natalia! I love your page!

  3. Ethan Abel

    Hey Natalia! I like you beautiful question as it relates to the predicament that we are in and adresses how we can help the elderly during this time.

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