Losing a loved one or friend can be a tough thing for anyone to go through. For senior adults, loss can be an especially tough thing to handle. Aging can bring a time of many losses: loss of independence, loss of physical strength, loss of memory, and often, the loss of many friends in a short period of time. As peers, spouses, friends, and even children start to pass away, senior adults can feel as though they’ve lost their emotional support system as well – this can make handling further loss especially tough.
Grief is a natural human process that can occur for many reasons, but is often associated with loss and death. It takes time to heal and go through the grieving process. Additionally, people tend to handle grief in different ways and for different amounts of time. We realize there is no one-size-fits-all answer for helping someone you love through these tough times, but we’ve collected some general tips for helping a senior adult in your care heal and recover from loss.
- Give them a support system. Ensure that you are there to help them and are willing to listen. Help them stay in touch with other close family and friends who can be an emotional support at this tough time.
- Help them to consider their own physical and emotional needs. Grieving can cause distress and disrupt sleep schedules. Help them to maintain a healthy diet, sleep well, and keep their immune system functioning well.
- Be understanding. You can help them to maintain a routine that will help them to feel positive about their life, but be understanding when they aren’t feeling up to attending certain social events or activities. Give them alone time when they need it.
- Be genuinely caring. Try to offer heartfelt sentiments and talk to them about their friend or loved one in a caring way instead of offering trite sayings or sentiments. Sometimes it means more to feel sorrow with them than to be positive all the time.