Top Tips on Dealing with Bereavement for the Elderly
Bereavement is something that affects us all at some point. If one of your elderly parents dies, leaving the other alone, this will undoubtedly have an effect on them. This can be especially distressing for them if the death was sudden, and it can often result in a huge adjustment for the surviving partner.
They may have spent most of their lives together and shared responsibilities, and now they may have to take on new tasks and develop new routines at the same time as coping with their loss.
Often it is difficult to know what you can do to help them in the best way, so here is a guide to steps you could take.
Provide them with Company
Often the most important thing is to simply provide your parent with company. They may be feeling incredibly lonely, and they may simply want someone to listen to them, to hear their thoughts and feelings, to express their emotions and come to terms with their loss. Of course, they may prefer not to talk about it, but make sure they know you are there for them.
Help them to Get Organised
One of the biggest changes in their life could be that they need to take on tasks that their partner previously did. Helping them to stay organised and on top of things can therefore be very important.
Write a list of the things they need to do such as bills to pay, chores to carry out and appointments to make. Help them to create a schedule, and then provide them with assistance, especially in the early days of being alone where even simple tasks may be difficult. This will be especially important for tasks they may not have done before, such as paying the bills.
Hire a Care Worker
Care workers do not always provide live-in care. In fact, our care workers at Comfort Keepers may pop around for a few hours to help with certain tasks. Your parent does not have to be ill to use the services of a care worker, and you may simply want to arrange some extra help and companionship for them for a few months following the death of a loved one, so consider this as an option.
Look Out for Warning Signs
Bereavement can affect people differently. Grief can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression, and you may also notice that your parent is not eating properly. Look out for signs that they may need to see a doctor, and book an appointment with their GP if you are worried. A doctor may prescribe medication to help, or they may refer them for counselling.
Encourage Social Activities
You may want to encourage your parent to take up some activities where they meet new people and make friends. Would they like to take up an activity they used to do in the past? Or would they like to learn something new? Perhaps they could join a club and meet some new people. Volunteering can also be a good way to meet people and have something to do each day.
Consider Getting a Pet
A pet can provide an excellent form of companionship. Bring up the idea to your parent and see if they like the thought of getting a cat or a dog because this can sometimes help to reduce the loneliness they may be suffering. Just remember that pets bring increased responsibility, so make sure your parent is able to look after it or be prepared to help out yourself.
Help Your Parent to Deal with their Loss
Helping an elderly parent to cope with bereavement can be a challenge, especially as you too may also be grieving your loss. Keep these tips in mind and always remember that help is at hand in the form of professional care if you need it.