December 22, 2019
Grief And Seniors: Understanding The Basics
Loss is a normal part of life. Seniors experience the death of loved ones, spouses, friends and others as they age – and while grief is a natural reaction to these losses, that doesn’t mean grief is innocuous, or can always be resolved without professional help. In fact, grief can contribute to depression, health issues and more when it’s not addressed properly.
So, in this article from Green Box Solutions, we’ll discuss some statistics about grief and seniors, signs that an aging loved one may be having trouble with the grieving process, and some suggestions that may help you get them the care they need.
Understanding The Latest Statistics About Seniors, Grief & Health
Grief can be very harmful to seniors if they do not have the necessary resources to work through their grief. Here are a few statistics that show the impact grief can have on seniors, according to these two studies:
- A study found that 31% of seniors admitted into psychiatric units for the elderly had recently been bereaved
- About 10% of all cases of grief become prolonged or complicated
- Complicated grief increases the risk of anxiety, depression, and risk of suicide, and leads to a lower overall quality of life
- Bereaved seniors are more likely to have cognitive difficulties with language fluency, attention and information processing
The Top Signs That Seniors May Be Suffering From Grief-Induced Depression
The grieving process is different for everyone. Naturally, it may take a long time for a senior to recover after the loss of a loved one, particularly a spouse or close friend. That’s why it’s important to understand the difference between grieving and depression.
In normal grieving, you may notice that your loved one is sad and having trouble with the loss of a loved one. But they should still be able to find moments of happiness in their grief, and maintain a relatively normal lifestyle.
On the other hand, the symptoms of grief-induced depression can be quite a bit more severe. You should look for things like:
- Suicidal ideation
- Anxiety or irritability
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Difficulty concentrating or memory issues
- Social withdrawal
- Complaints of physical pain
- Changes in mood, sleep habits, overall energy levels, food consumption, and hobbies
If you recognize more than one of these symptoms, your loved one may be having trouble grieving properly, and could have grief-induced depression.
Suggestions To Help With Grief & Depression In Seniors – Understand Your Options
There are a few ways you can help your aging loved ones deal with grief and the loss of a loved one. Here are our top suggestions.
- Grief counseling/bereavement therapy – Therapy is the best way to help your loved one get through their loss. A licensed therapist can help them work through their feelings, find meaning in their lives, and develop coping mechanisms to recover from the loss of a spouse or other close family member.
- Grief support groups – Grief support groups are another alternative to a therapist. Your loved one can discuss their loss and feelings in a safe space with others who have had similar experiences, and work through the grieving process in a supportive environment.
- Spend more time with your loved one – Simply spending time with a loved one and helping them do day-to-day tasks and enjoy their hobbies can help them feel better and recover from the loss of a loved one.