Written by Lindsay LaVine [Lindsay LaVine is a Chicago-based business and lifestyle freelance writer who’s worked for NBC and CNN] December 17, 2014
If you want someone to help you, try expressing an attitude of gratitude. A new study suggests those two magic words can go a long way.
With the holiday season in full swing, ample opportunities abound to give thanks. According to a recent study, expressing gratitude may actually encourage people to help you even if they’re relative strangers.
The study, appearing in an online issue of the American Psychological Association’s journal Emotion, was coauthored by Lisa Williams, a psychology professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, and Monica Bartlett, an assistant psychology professor at Gonzaga University.
“Our study was the first to show evidence that . . . an expression of gratitude could help initiate a new relationship,” says Bartlett.
In the study, 70 college students were recruited under the guise of giving feedback on high school students’ college application essays. A week later, all participants received a handwritten note from the mentee whose essay they’d edited acknowledging receipt. But half included the following thank you message: “Thank you so much for all the time and effort you put into doing that for me!”
Saying thank you leads people to view you as a warmer human being and consequently be more interested in socially engaging with you, continuing to get to know you, and to build a relationship with you.
After receiving their letters, participants completed questionnaires about their perceptions of the students, and whether they’d be willing to communicate with their mentee in the future—like answer questions via email, or give them a campus tour. They were also given the opportunity to provide their contact information to the student they’d helped.
Researchers found those who received the thank you message were more likely to provide their contact information to the student-mentee if they needed future assistance, and describe the student more favorably than those who didn’t receive a thank you, regardless of gender.
“What we found is that those participants who were thanked . . . rated their mentee as a warmer human being, that is, more polite and thoughtful, likeable, and kind,” Bartlett says. “They were more willing to leave their contact information in order to stay in touch or socialize with their mentee.”
Gratitude Toward Strangers
Barlett said she was encouraged by the findings, as these interactions were between strangers, and the corresponding willingness to help was based on a simple gesture. “Saying thank you—a simple thank you—leads people to view you as a warmer human being and consequently be more interested in socially engaging with you, continuing to get to know you, and to build a relationship with you,” Bartlett says.
This finding is in line with Bartlett’s earlier studies, which found other benefits of gratitude. “When a person’s feeling grateful, they’re more likely to behave in warm sorts of ways—to be thoughtful, helpful and kind,” she notes. “Research has shown that people who experience more gratitude more deeply and more often—that’s linked to a lot of really positive things for people, namely an increase in your own sense of well-being.”
That’s something to think about as you write your holiday cards this year.
[h/t: the Spokesman Review]
CCRC’s (Continuing Care Retirement Communities) for seniors number about 1,900 in the United States. The vast majority (80%) are operated by not-for-profit organizations. These senior communities offer an array of housing and services. They provide senior services in three areas: 1) Independent living; 2) Assisted living; and, 3) Skilled care.
Typically housing for active and independent seniors (starting at age 55 or in some cases age 62) consist of apartments, condo’s, single family homes, or duplexes with basic maintenance and lifestyle programs featured. Assisted living, generally in a congregate apartment setting, with assistance with ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) is provided and available on a 24 hour basis. Skilled long-term (nursing home) and rehabilitation, completes the three basics prongs of a CCRC. Many CCRC’s are now offering Home Health services to their communities and beyond to the general public. LeadingAge is the nation’s largest not-for-profit Senior health care and retirement housing association. LeadingAge points out that the typical array of services, programs and amenities offered by CCRC’s include:
• Social interaction – home-based support network and social programs for aging in place
• New lifestyle – freedom, choice and relaxation
• Activities and Programs – preventive, holistic care
• Wellness programs – including on-site fitness equipment and programs
• Peace of Mind – health and social well-being ensures that the concerns of the older adults and their families are met
• Dining Options – from snack bars to complete meals provide wellness and health benefits
• Transportation – available for physician visits, religious services, shopping, etc.
• Low maintenance lifestyle – sheds homeowner concerns about maintaining their own home
• Security – provides older adults and their families with peace-of-mind that they are in a safe environment and not ‘home alone’
Most CCRC’s began their lives in the 1970’s and beyond. Now with the impact of a more ‘mature’ industry and the changing demands and needs of their newer constituency of ‘Baby Boomers,’ current larger CCRC’s are considering new trends for the future. In the past, it was assumed residents would start out in their independent apartments, then eventually move to assisted living venues, and then a sense of the inevitable nursing home admission. Today . . .’not so much!’
Most CCRC residents strongly resist moving from unit to unit depending on their health. They are demanding to stay and have necessary services brought to them! Thus the rise in CCRC’s establishing Home Health and Hospice agencies! The nursing, rehabilitation, and supportive services come to the resident’s door! Definitely a major change from the inception of the early CCRC’s and their original design!
What are some of the other CCRC trends for the future? According to the latest LeadingAge/Ziegler Top 100 report the nation’s largest CCRC’s tend to be moving in the direction of:
• Reducing their number of skilled licensed nursing home beds. The national trend is for the demand of such beds by consumers to be dwindling. Options as assisted living and utilization of home and community based services, in many cases, is replacing the demand for traditional nursing home beds.
Many traditional nursing homes receive much of their payment through Medicaid. This entitlement program woefully underfunds the costs for actual resident care, making it nearly unviable for nursing home’s to exist into the future.
• Increasing the number of Transitional Care / Rehabilitation beds. Short term rehabilitation and discharge back home is the wave of the future, as nursing home’s convert services to attract Medicare subsidized patients through a heavy rehabilitation focus.
• Increasing assisted living Memory Care beds and services. In the past decade, Alzheimer’s disease has increased 68%! As the average age of US citizen increases, so does the likelihood of attaining Alzheimer’s disease or a related form of dementia. The demand for professional care and programming in markedly increasing.
• Increasing Independent senior housing and services. While in general about 10% of seniors consider living in active lifestyle communities, it is estimated that number will double in the near future!
CCRC’s are continually changing and morphing to meet the demands of the demanding Baby Boomers of the future!
What is advocacy? What was the last cause in which you advocated? For a definition of advocacy, let’s go to the Merriam Webster dictionary were it reports that advocacy is ‘The act or process of supporting a cause or proposal.’ The latest political poles indicate dissatisfaction, on a broad scale, on a broad number of issues, such as effectiveness of our current congress; the international leadership skills of our president; whether or not health care reform promises have been met; the plight of the middle class; immigration reform; entitlement programs; recent decisions of the Supreme Court; national defense; and mid-term elections.
Cedar Community has continual concerns over: Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements that are woefully inadequate to support the high level of quality our residents/patients need and deserve; the onerous of over regulated nature of annual nursing home surveys by the government, based on extremely outdated rules and codes; the lack of input health care professional and providers have, as lawyers and politicians make medical decisions affecting the lives of millions; the ultimate result of the new ACO (Accountable Care Organization) ‘bundled payment programs’ for nursing homes and home health operations; etc. etc.
Somehow, in essence, you and I have allowed for these things to occur. OK, that’s maybe a stretch, but our advocacy inactivity, our unwillingness to speak up makes us at least a little culpable.
As the ‘election’ season heats up (both mid-term elections in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016), it’s time we consider a more active role as citizen advocates! Albert Einstein said, “No problem can be solved by the same consciousness that caused it.” Our collective consciousness has to change to drive the nation forward in a more positive and productive way. Our values need to be better reflected by our elected officials and their actions.
You and I do witness the loud and brash screeching of some when the TV cameras are turned on, but there is a better and more effective way of advocacy. We really can speak up . . . without being rebellious or enmeshed, neither reactionary nor hateful. A simple phone call, a concise letter, and pointed e-mail to our elected officials, kindly, yet strongly stating our thoughtful point of view can have amazing results.
So, what does Cedar Community do about advocacy? Our Board members, our administrative council members, our nursing leaders, and key managers receive numerous ‘For Your Action’ notifications by our LeadingAge association requesting contacting both state and federal legislators to support our causes. Several of the Adm. Council members annually visit the state capitol in Madison and federal legislative offices in Washington DC, meeting with our elected officials, explaining our organization, and the need to support reform to enhance the lives of the individuals we serve.
What are the best tips for effective advocacy? A) Know the facts; B) Use the facts; C) Have a clear message; D) Create and nurture the relationship between you and the elected official; E) Engage others using letters, social media, and phone calls; F) Make your voice heard, especially by making personal visits; G) Say ‘Thank you!’ Keep meetings short, concise and show your appreciation.
How do I know who represents me and how do I contact that person? Pretty easy. . . there are listings posted at the library, in the newspaper editorial sections, and in simple internet searches.
The role of a U.S. citizen is to vote and to advocate.