LOSS & GRIEF
During this time of their lives, a lot of your senior’s experience may be punctuated by loss: loss of health, independence, mobility, routine, and more. The most acute loss is that of family and friends. Here are some ways to help them cope.
As they grow older, your loved ones will lose friends, family and spouses through death. While they may be aware that loss will happen, that knowledge doesn’t always give them the tools to handle it.
The Stages of Grief
Swiss-American psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross outlines five stages in the grief process:
“ This can’t be happening to me.”
“ Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
“ Make this not happen, and in return I will ______ .”
“ I’m too sad to do anything.”
“ I’m at peace with what happened.”
The Difference Between Grief & Depression
Grief and depression have many common symptoms, but there are ways to tell the difference. Grief comes with ups and downs and involves a variety of emotions. Even when people are grieving, they will experience times of joy and happiness. With depression, however, the feelings of despair are persistent. Symptoms that may indicate depression rather than just grief include:
∞ Persistent and vague complaints
∞ Moving in a slower manner
∞ Demanding behavior
∞ Trouble concentrating
∞ Loss of interest in things once pleasurable
If you see signs of depression in anyone or experience these symptoms yourself, seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Healthy Ways to Help Your Senior Handle Grief
Share the Sorrow
Allow your senior to talk about their loss if they want to. They might feel comforted to know that you are grieving as well. If it seems appropriate, suggesting a loss support group can be very helpful, as they might feel safer sharing with strangers.
Don’t Ignore the Pain
It may feel like you can push the pain away by immersing your loved ones in other activities. Unfortunately, this only delays the pain and sometimes forces it to surface in inappropriate or unhealthy ways.
Allow them to Express Grief in their Own Way
Everyone expresses grief in different ways: tears, screaming, withdrawing, cleaning, caregiving, sleeping. Allow your loved one to grieve in their own way.
Offer Practical Help
Especially if the deceased spouse was traditionally the caregiver or the one to manage the household, the surviving spouse may be overwhelmed and stop caring for themselves. Offer to cook, clean, run errands, and take them to appointments.
Source: Mental Health America
Depression in Seniors
Grief left unacknowledged can morph into depression. Depression is a medical illness that carries with it a wealth of other health risks. Unfortunately, so often, depression is assumed as a normal component of aging – a reaction to illness, loss, and social transition as your senior faces their own mortality and vulnerability. It does not need to be.
While depression certainly might stem from these conditions, it needs to be treated as a separate illness with its own diagnosis. Sometimes, successfully addressing depression can lessen other symptoms of aging. Happiness or contentment can be a healing antidote, protecting the immune system, increasing social awareness, lowering heart and blood pressure, and inspiring healthier decisions.
Source: Healthline, NCOA
Depression is often mistaken for or lumped in with the symptoms of:
∞ Alzheimer’s disease
∞ heart disease
∞ Parkinson’s disease
∞ thyroid disorders
It is unavoidable that your senior will experience loss in their lives. How they process and handle that loss can be shaped by the love and caring of their caretakers, family, and friends.
Whether you are looking for a reliable nurse for different medical services, or a professional aide for personal care services, Gulfshore Home Care is here to help. Because every client’s needs and lifestyle are different, our in-home care team will provide services specifically based on your loved one’s condition and circumstances.
We are located in the areas of Naples, Bonita Springs, Estero, and Marco Island. Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 239-249-8318
With our home health care services you will be able to live a happy, safe, and independent life. We invite you read more about us. Every situation is unique, so to have all of your specific questions answered with personalized information from a friendly local home care expert, call 239-249-8318 now!