The senior years are often characterized by a pervasive sense of loss. Aging adults frequently have to face the reality of close family and friends passing away. If your elderly relative is grieving, Birmingham senior care experts recommend several things you can do to help him or her manage the sorrow.
1. Recognize and Respect the Normal Grieving Process
Grief is an entirely natural process that often occurs in a series of well-defined stages. People can move through this process at differing rates, but they do need the freedom to experience the appropriate emotions as they arise. Rather than trying to cheer up your loved one, consider offering a sympathetic ear or a shoulder to cry on. Grief only becomes problematic when people fail to progress to a state of acceptance and are unable to move on with their lives.
2. Watch for Signs of Depression
It is not uncommon for seniors to experience significant changes in their appetites after losing a close family member or friend. However, prolonged loss of appetite and a dramatic and extended decrease in social engagement and personal self-care may indicate depression. Talk to your loved one’s doctor if the physical and behavioral symptoms of your loved one’s grief are extreme or last for a significant period.
3. Share Fond Memories
Grief can make seniors fearful of losing their memories of a deceased relative or friend. Talking about the departed and the special moments shared with this person can help relieve these fears and alleviate feelings of sorrow. Spending time going through photo albums and scrapbooks or trading stories with your loved one can be a tremendous source of comfort.
4. Be Patient
Although grief is normal and expected, this does not mean there is a set time frame for grief to reach its end. Do your best to be patient and supportive of your loved one during the weeks that lie ahead. He or she may need extra help and attention throughout the grieving process and may have a difficult time focusing on complex activities or finding the emotional strength and motivation to adhere to a rigidly structured schedule.
For additional tips to help your loved one manage grief, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our compassionate caregivers can provide emotional support and social companionship, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia home care Birmingham seniors can count on. For more information on our in-home care services, call 616-243-0835 to speak with one of our qualified Care Managers and schedule a no-obligation consultation.