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Helping Seniors After the Loss of a Spouse

 Posted by George Pizzo on August 23, 2021 at 3:22 PM

The loss of a loved one is difficult. But the loss of a spouse or life partner is more than difficult -- it changes your entire world. When you share your life with someone, you learn to count on them for both the big and the little things. Once that person is gone, all you have is one question: What do I do now?

Mourning the loss of a spouse is even more difficult for seniors. The Atlantic cites studies that show grief actually weakens the body, especially for those who are older. After the loss, the body’s white blood cells -- the ones that help to fight off infection -- weaken. At the same time, the stress hormone cortisol increases. These physical changes can have a serious negative impact on a person’s health. If it happens to an older person whose constitution is already relatively weak, it can lead to serious problems for their overall wellness.

If you have a senior in your life who has recently experienced a loss, being there to support them and look after both their physical and mental well-being can make a huge difference. Caring Transitions offers the following tips to help guide your loved one through the grieving process.

Supporting Seniors and Promoting Wellness
Everybody handles grief differently. While some experts push the five stages (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), in reality a person can bounce around those emotions for an undetermined amount of time. Dealing with all of these feelings can make it difficult for a person to take care of themselves. That’s why it can be so helpful for a friend or family member to be there for support. Here are some ways you can be that person for a senior that is mourning the loss of a spouse.

       Be there. Just being present can make a world of difference for a grieving person. Losing a spouse makes a house very empty, so your presence can help fill that void while they recover from the shock of their loss.

       Help them with chores around the house. When dealing with a big loss, a lot of people are consumed with thoughts of “nothing matters” so they let the dishes pile up or the laundry go unwashed. You or someone you know could handle larger projects like cleaning the gutters, or better yet enlist the help of professionals specializing in gutter cleaning near youLending them a helping hand can keep the house in order so they don’t have to live in sadness and filth.

       Your loved one may decide to move for a change of scenery or simply to downsize, which can be handled by the experts at Caring Transitions. Since the moving process can be overwhelming, give them a helping hand. One of the first steps of house hunting should be figuring out finances; this includes getting an estimate of your loved one's current home to see how much it's worth. From there, you can reach out to a lender and a realtor to walk your loved one through the homebuying process.

       Sunrise Senior Living suggests encouraging healthy eating habits. Depression affects people’s appetite in different ways-- some people overeat and some people neglect food altogether. Whatever they do, don’t shame your loved one for their habits. Instead, help them prepare healthy meals, stock their refrigerators with whole foods, and encourage them to drink plenty of water so they can stay healthy.

       If you think they would be open to it, connect them with a grief counselor. Therapists can help people work through complicated feelings and provide them with healthy ways to cope with their depression and anxiety.

       Watch out for alcohol or drug abuse. People often turn to these harmful substances to self-medicate the pain they feel after losing the one they love. The problem is, as PsyCom notes, they actually do more harm than help.

Losing a spouse leaves a huge hole in a person’s life. For seniors, it can also have a negative impact on their health. Being there for your loved ones after a death can help keep them healthy so they can recover and go back to living their life.

Caring Transitions specializes in professional organization, relocation, downsizing, and estate sale services in Somerset, Union and Middlesex counties and the surrounding areas. Learn more about how our professional organizer team can help you with all your transitional needs by giving us a call today! 908-666-2699