Your elderly father recently passed away, leaving your mother alone in the house they once shared. They had big plans to travel and visit grandchildren, and dad took care of all the household finances, repairs and yardwork. Ever since his death, mom hasn’t been the same. She’s always depressed, doesn’t eat right and isn’t keeping up her appearance. It’s gotten to the point that you’re worried about her health and wellbeing. Helping a grieving senior deal with the loss of a spouse is hard. Here are some ways to provide your love and support.
Signs of Persistent Grief in the Elderly
Many surviving spouses give their adult children the impression that they’ve bounced back quickly after the loss of a spouse, but appearances can be deceiving. If you suspect that your parent is suffering from persistent grief, look for these warning signs:
- Poor concentration. Because grief causes the mind to wander, simple activities like watching TV, driving or reading can be hard.
- Forgetfulness. Trouble focusing leads to misplaced car keys, forgetting appointments and a disheveled appearance.
- Disorganization. Taking longer than usual to complete tasks, or not doing so at all, are indications of persistent grief.
- Lack of interest or motivation. Losing a spouse oftentimes results in the surviving partner questioning the purpose of life and why activities once enjoyed are worth the effort anymore.
If your aging in place parent is exhibiting one or more of these signs, it’s time to explore ways to ensure their continued freedom and independence.
Helping a Surviving Parent Feel Better
In addition to noticeable signs, your parent may have emotional and physical needs they aren’t telling you about. Reassuringly share your concerns with them and ask how you can make them feel better. Based on what you learn, here are some caregiving areas where you may be able to lend assistance:
If mom is getting frail or has any medical conditions that are limiting mobility, dad probably helped her before he died. For example, if she still wants to live alone but is a fall risk due to balance issues, you may want to make some safety modifications to the home or find her an assistive device. If her vision is getting worse, it may be time for an eye exam. Make sure mom has reliable transportation and consider a home medical alert device as an added precaution.
If dad used to handle their finances, your mother probably needs bill paying and bank account management assistance. Ask for permission to become a custodian on her bank accounts, help her pay her monthly bills on time, and before mom’s condition worsens it might be best to become her durable Power of Attorney (POA).
Seniors that stay active are usually healthier and more independent. Exercise is also a great stress-reducer and self-confidence booster. Invite your mother to join you for Yoga class or daily walks around the neighborhood. Getting mom to take a class at the local community college or learning a new hobby are great socializing opportunities too. Any of these activities may ultimately help take mom’s mind off your father and lead to new friendships.
Grieving for an extended length-of-time has physical consequences like poor appetite, trouble sleeping, depression, loneliness and fatigue that can all diminish a senior’s quality of life. When grief persists for several months, clinicians refer to it as “complicated grieving”. If your parent suffers from this condition, here are ways to get them additional emotional support:
- Clergy member or spiritual advisor
- Support group for surviving spouses
- Professional therapist or counselor
- Other family members
Reliable In-Home Companion Care for Grieving Seniors
Helping a grieving parent cope with the loss of a spouse can be challenging when you’re tired or live far away. When you need a hand, contact First In Care. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our well-trained companion caregivers will serve as an extended family in your senior’s home so they can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. To put your mind at ease, our compassionate, carefully screen caregivers use a unique approach that’s designed to improve the quality of life for the families we serve.
In addition to companion care, our top-quality services include meals, personal hygiene, light housekeeping, medication reminders and transportation. And, all our family trusted amenities can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about First In Care today, or to schedule a FREE initial assessment for a senior in Manatee County, FL, now, please visit us at: www.firstincare.com.