Dealing with the Loss of a Loved One
One of the most difficult parts of aging is losing those with whom you have shared years of memories. As a senior gets older, it becomes more common to hear about high school friends, business partners, former neighbors, and other acquaintances who pass away due to illness or simply old age. For elderly folks who are married, it is a near-certainty that one of the two will spend some time living after the other dies. Although we know that these facts of life are true, it doesn’t make it any easier to face them. Different people have different ways of dealing with grief and moving on, and recognizing those differences can give you the ability to help your senior loved one through this difficult experience.
Time to Forget
Of course, we never want to make an effort to actually forget those we love who have passed on. But in the weeks following a death, a newly widowed spouse is in danger of falling into depression living alone in the house for the first time, with nothing but his own thoughts to keep him company. He needs plenty of human company, pleasant conversation, and activities that will give him something to think about besides his grief.
On the other hand, be careful about physically taxing a senior with too much activity. The funeral and associated activities may have taken more of a toll on your elderly loved one than you realize, and a nonstop string of visits from friends and family members could do more harm than good.
Time to Remember
Depending on your personality, you might shy away from talking about a loved one who has recently passed away, especially with his or her spouse. However, avoiding the subject can actually cause more pain, making the death seem more tragic than it really is. Sadly, death is a fact of life that we must live with, and the healthiest grievers are the ones who are able to celebrate their loved ones’ lives instead of concentrating on their death. It may do your senior parent a lot of good for you to bring up treasured memories of the person you both loved so much.
Time to Change
While it comes as a surprise to no one, researchers have found that the death of a spouse, family member, or close friend often accelerates a decline in the health of a senior. Sometimes, that is for a very mundane reason—perhaps the senior depended on her spouse for meal preparation, prescription management, physical assistance with daily tasks, or other needs. In order to make sure these needs are met, it may be necessary to have a family member or a professional in-home caregiver take over.
Photo by wickenden
Originally posted 2014-10-30 10:30:53.