March 24, 2011

Have you ever considered how the elderly may feel, growing older while they watch their friends and loved ones pass on? There are several ways we can help them to live a full life despite coping with loss.

If your loved one is dealing with the recent loss of his or her mate, there are practical ways in which you can help him or her to adjust to their new way of life.

  • An elderly woman may worry that she will not be able to survive without her husband, much less take care of the home and yard. Assure her that you are there for her and can help her find reliable assistance if needed.
  • An elderly man coping with the loss of his wife may need assistance with grocery shopping or keeping up with doctor’s appointments.

Many seniors develop a comfortable circle of friends with whom they have spent much time over the years. When they find this circle of friends dwindling, it can be good to remember to:

  • Encourage your loved ones to branch out to new places, that way they are not constantly reminded of “the old days.”
  • Invite new members into their social group.
  • Try to find others who have also experienced the loss of loved ones.
  • Help them to re-connect with distant family members by letter writing, telephone or email.
learning to sew Both young and old will benefit from thier new-found companionship.

Keeping busy is the key. If your loved one is still able to get out of the house regularly, they may enjoy:

  • Volunteering their time at a library, hospital or even a senior care home for just a few hours a week. It’s never too late to learn something new.
  • You may be able to teach your loved one a new hobby such as scrapbooking or using the computer.
  • Or, your loved one could teach you a new hobby that they have enjoyed for some time such as gardening or knitting.

If your loved one has lost several close friends in a short amount of time, it might be helpful to

  • Sign up for a grief class. Many such groups are offered through churches or synagogues. That way he or she could share feelings and talk about those they have loved and lost.

Just having someone around for companionship and assistance will help in the healing process. If your schedule does not allow you to be with your loved one as often as you’d like, recruit the help of other family members like siblings and grandchildren.

Let us know what has worked for you in helping your loved one deal with the loss of family and friends below or on our Caregiver Forum!

Alisa Meredith, Writer

Guest writer Alisa Meredith is a blogger and social media professional with Scalable Social Media. Every once in a while, someone at Home Instead does something that compels her to stop Tweeting and write something real! This is one of those times.

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