One of the most difficult moments in a senior’s life is losing a spouse or close loved one. Although it can be difficult for everyone in the family, it’s important that you’re there for your loved one during this emotional time while they are coping with a loss.
To prevent your loved one from experiencing depression from elderly grief because of loss of a spouse, there are a few steps that professionals recommend taking. Ensuring that he or she is surrounded by people who care and that a healthy, active lifestyle is still a goal is essential during the mourning process. Keep these three tips in mind as you help your loved one cope with elderly grief from loss of a spouse.
1. Stay busy and healthy
According to the National Institute of Aging, while your loved one is grieving and coping with a loss, there may be side effects such as difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite and problems concentrating. Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re checking up on your loved one regularly to make sure he or she is taking care of him- or herself. Is he or she sticking with a daily routine? This helps to keep your loved one busy and prevent him or her from falling into the trap of negative thoughts.
One of the most well-known strategies to prevent depression is exercise. As one of the greatest stress relievers and ways to keep the mind fresh, a quick walk or game of tennis can significantly improve your loved one’s mind set. This will also make it easier for him or her to sleep at night.
2. Be social
One thing that older adults tend to do after a spouse has passed is isolate themselves. Although it’s important to allow your loved one to have some time alone to process everything and grieve privately, make sure that he or she isn’t permanently distancing him- or herself from friends or family. According to the NIA, one of the most helpful coping techniques a mourning adult can turn to is expressing his or her feelings to close friends or family who want to listen.
It’s sometimes beneficial to join a support group as well. To be surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals who are going through the same thing may be just what your loved one needs. Many hospitals and local agencies offer grief support groups for the elderly coping with loss of a spouse.
3. Get professional help
Dr. Mikol Davis, a psychologist specializing in aging issues, believes that the rule of thumb is to seek professional help for your loved one if it’s been over a year since the passing of his or her spouse without signs of progression, according to AgingCare.com. Keeping an eye out for the warning signs of depression is one of the most important things you can do for your loved one, especially if he or she already has a mental condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, because he or she will be more susceptible to depression.
According to A Place for Mom, irritability, social withdrawal and even increased physical pain are strong signs that your loved one may need to seek professional help to guide him or her through the grieving process when coping with a loss.
At Elmcroft, we have senior living communities that make your loved one the main focus. Contact us today to learn more about our assisted care community and how we can help.