Grief comes with many things especially for our aging parents. When we are young, – or even middle-aged – we deal with grief on occasion and usually very suddenly. But as we age, this emotion can come easily on a much more regular basis whether from the loss of friends or loved ones, a chronic health condition or other issue that negatively impacts your life.
So when something tragic happens (maybe not even so tragic in the grand scheme of things), they may be affected by it on a much larger scale and need to cope with the grief they feel. Here are some tips on how to help seniors cope with grief.
Put Off Any Major Life Changes
Let’s say one parent dies just before a planned move to a new city or new senior living community typically where an adult child lives. Instead of going ahead with the move immediately following the death, let the living parent have time to remain where he or she is until the right time. Allow him to grieve and adjust to life without his partner before making a major life change. By doing this, he can make the move on his own terms which usually happens fairly quickly following the death.
Listen to Them Talk
Elderly parents love to talk so no matter the cause of the grief, make time to listen to them talk. They need to get the whole situation straight in their heads and talking it out is often the best way to get there. Most of the time, they simply want someone to listen without offering advice, an opinion or anything else. Just listen to them talk.
Urge Them to Take Care of Themselves
Grief can take over someone very quickly. From the get-go, it is important to urge them to take care of themselves by making sure they eat during the day and by getting out for fresh air and exercise. The latter allows endorphins to take over which naturally helps with the grieving process.
Be Careful with What You Say
When someone suffers some sort of tragedy (usually a death in the family), the first thing that people want to do is to offer sympathy which usually comes in the form of the most dreaded statements, explanations or “reasons” for the circumstances. The best thing is to be careful with what you say. Avoid the typical statements like “It’s for the best” or “it just takes time.” Instead offer a simple “I’m so sorry for your loss.” This kind of statement is simple, well meaning, and most importantly, much better received.
Remember that Grieving Takes Time
Our elderly parents do not have as much on their plates giving them a lot of time on their hands to think making the grieving process take longer. Remember that grieving takes time and have patience to allow them to deal with it.
Remind Her She is Still Living
When one parent loses a spouse, part of them goes with that person. That is why it is so important to keep them moving. Asking a loved one to help with errands, preparing meals, and other daily chores, makes it possible to remind her she is still living. This not only lets a loved one get back into the daily routine of life, it offers a break from the grieving process to forget for a little while. As time progresses, the break gets a little longer until one day, it is very evident that the process has come full circle.
Recommend Professional Help
Sometimes the grief is overpowering and causes loved ones to sink into a state of depression. When this happens, it is not a bad idea to recommend professional help to overcome grief. Doing this gives your loved one the chance to talk and express their feeling to someone who will simply sit there and listen, and who is trained to help people deal with grief.
Knowing How to Help Seniors
It is not uncommon for those who live in independent living communities to experience grief on a fairly regular basis. Knowing how to help seniors cope and deal with their sadness may make the grief a little more manageable for everyone involved. We all know grief is a process that, more than anything else takes time. When we understand this and allow the time needed to go through the steps, the pain lessens and eventually goes away (almost).
Aston Gardens At Pelican Pointe is here to provide a range of senior living options for those ready to start the next chapter of their lives. Contact us today at 941.584.3157 to learn about our senior living programs, amenities, and floorplans.