The Grieving Senior

Life-altering events, such as the loss of a loved one, a devastating diagnosis, or losing a job can occur at any age. However, these types of changes happen often as one ages. Grieving is a normal, and even healthy reaction to loss in life. Over time though, grieving can effect one’s mental and emotional health, often leading to depression.

Throughout life, we have been taught that grief comes in basic stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. However, many believe grief to come and go instead of “stages”. These roller coasters of emotions begin to adjust over time.

Grief can cause both emotional and physical pain. People who are grieving can have:

* Difficulty sleeping
* Loss in appetite
* Problems with concentration
* Trouble making decisions
* A feeling of being numb, shocked, or fearful
* Guilt for being the one who is still here
* Anger at the person for leaving

Here are some helpful tips for someone who is grieving. Encourage them to :

* Find a support group. Many hospitals, churches, and local government agencies provide support groups for grieving.

* Consider having a part-time job.

* Seek therapy with a counselor. Professionally trained counselors can help with the complicated stages of grieving.

* Take medication as the doctor has prescribed.

* Talk to friends who are good listeners or take a walk with a companion.

* Remember to eat healthy, exercise if possible, and get rest.

* Volunteer at a local school as a tutor; join a community class or a senior group; be part of a choir, sports league, or a craft group; sign up for games at a local recreation center.

* Pick up some books to read at a library or bookstore.

* Offer to watch your grandchildren and be around youth.

* Try not to make any major changes immediately. Don’t make decisions when your decision maker is broken.

Grief doesn’t last forever, and sometimes goes away on its own.  Mourning takes its time. It’s common to have instability in emotions for a while. Grief is not a permanent state. A grieving senior needs the support from their family and friends in order to help them process these changes.

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