Bereavement is a state of having suffered a tremendous loss. Grief is a natural response to that loss. Most people are eventually able to come to terms with their grief without help, but unfortunately, some are not. This is particularly true of the elderly and is a primary concern to physicians as it can lead to psychological illness and depression.
Although change and loss can be very painful, both are cornerstones to our existence as human beings. As we age, one of the most common changes that we face is loss: loss of independence, loss of health, and loss of loved ones. The longer we live the more losses we will experience.
Aging individuals experience many losses: family members, friends, and pets. They miss these connections and that becomes a fertile ground for loneliness. It is often difficult to distinguish between grief and depression. Those who lose a spouse at this time in their lives are particularly vulnerable to dying from a cardiac event. Grief can also be associated with the loss of self and the person that we used to be. Even those who are fortunate enough to have family around them still mourn the loss of those of their own age who knew and understood them. A few friends may still be alive but may be compromised physically and mentally such that it may be difficult to maintain a connection with them. In most cases, the older we get the less contact we are likely to have with others. For most older adults, the television becomes their primary companion. There are, however, services for the elderly on a national, state, and local level that can help to keep them connected. Council on Aging, Jewish Family Charities, or Catholic Charities are a few options.
It is extremely important to understand the difference between grief and depression in the elderly. Although both are often treated similarly, the course of action is not the same for both. If your loved one is experiencing both grief and depression simultaneously, it needs to be brought to the attention of their physician immediately.
Allcare Home Health offers Companion Services for elderly clients who have lost a spouse. Our caregivers can assist with personal care, prepare and share a meal, provide transportation to social events, religious services, and trips to the park.
Contact us today to schedule an assessment with one of our RNs. Our experienced, compassionate caregivers can’t fill the shoes of a late spouse, but they can be there to help take away the loneliness and help your loved one get through a tough time. We are there when you can’t be! (919) 301-0236
Ref: NCIB.gov, Psychology Today, Philips Lifeline