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Seniors and In-Home Care After Losing a Spouse

March 22, 2021

Seniors and In-Home Care After Losing a Spouse: It’s the thing every senior dreads. Whether it’s a long illness, a sudden catastrophic event, or something in between, losing a spouse can be one of the most devastating occurrences of a senior’s life. The grieving process can be long, and it can have its own detrimental effects on the health of the surviving spouse. The National Institute on Aging (NIA) recognizes that the loss of a spouse; especially in elderly people living at home, can have effects that range beyond grief.

Seniors at Home Need to Grieve Losing a Spouse

Seniors who remain living at home tend to feel the loss most acutely. After all, with grown children having long ago moved out; losing a spouse means that a senior at home is now living alone for the first time in a long time. Maybe the first time ever. Experts agree that there are a few things that elderly people who are grieving the loss of a spouse should do to maintain their physical and emotional health.

  • Eat regular healthy meals. Many elderly people aren’t used to eating meals alone; and may instead eat fewer, and less healthy meals. Regular nutrition is important for seniors living at home, and establishing healthy habits when newly alone is important.
  • Find a support system. Many seniors who live at home alone experience loneliness and isolation. Whether it’s calling friends and family regularly, or having regular visits from an in-home caregiver, avoiding loneliness and isolation is important. There are organizations devoted to helping widows and widowers readjust to living alone.
  • Update financial information and wills. This might have to wait until the senior living at home has a little more energy and feels stronger. But an important part of the grieving process is updating information so that should something happen, there is no confusion regarding the senior’s wishes or finances.

Beyond Grief for Seniors Living at Home

Once moving through some of the grieving process; many seniors living at home find themselves with an interesting quandary. Julie, 78, lost her spouse to cancer last year. “I wanted to cook myself a steak the following summer, and I realized I had no idea how to work the grill. My husband had grilled dinner for us hundreds of times, but I had never seen how it worked. I had to call my son-in-law to ask him how to turn it on.”

Maybe the spouse who passed away was the one who did much of the housekeeping, or the cooking. Some grieving spouses report not really knowing how to work certain household appliances because their spouse was the one who always did it. That’s where it’s important for seniors to get some at-home help. An in-home caregiver can provide assistance with housekeeping, technology and organization, or laundry services.

Seniors Living at Home and Adjusting to the New Normal

It’s important to remember that there is no universal timeline for grief. Some seniors may adapt within a few weeks while others may need much longer to adjust to their new normal. There’s no right or wrong answer. And the grieving process isn’t necessarily linear. Progress and regression can happen at any time. And it may have many different causes. But it’s important to remember that help is always available, and that many who have gone before have experienced the same thing. It’s also important to remind seniors that it’s ok to ask for help, as many of them have valued self-reliance for their whole lives and may see asking for help as a sign of weakness.

Home Care Powered by AUAF Provides Help for Seniors Living with Grief

Our dedicated, professional in-home caregivers understand that dealing with the loss of a spouse is never easy, and will do everything they can to help seniors. The loss of a spouse doesn’t have to mean the end of a fulfilling life, but it may mean they’ll need a little extra help at home. Call us at 773-274-9262 or contact us to find out more about how Home Care Powered by AUAF can help.

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