Older adults often have many major losses
within a short period of time. For example, an older adult who loses a partner
may suffer many losses, including financial security, his or her best friend, and
The natural aging process brings many
losses, such as loss of independence and physical strength.
may seem to overreact to a minor loss. What is considered a minor loss may
bring memories and feelings about a previous greater loss.
How can you help an older adult who is grieving?
you can help an older adult who is grieving include:
Giving the person time. Sometimes older adults
need more time to become aware of their feelings and express them. Sometimes
they need more time to complete other activities as well. Giving an older
person extra time shows that you are concerned and respectful of the person's
Pointing out signs of sadness or changes in behavior. This
may help the person become aware of his or her feelings and may help the person
feel more comfortable talking with you about how he or she
Spending time with the person. An older adult who often
seems to be alone can benefit from your company. Invite him or her to go for a
walk or have a cup of coffee. Feelings of loneliness may last for a long time
when an older adult has lost something or someone special, especially a
Talking about the loss. Ask the person to talk about his or
her loss. Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses
over a short period of time, are often helped by
sharing memories of the lost person.
Watching for signs of prolonged grieving or depression. If you
have concerns that an older adult is having difficulty working through his or
her grieving, talk with a health professional.
Older adults often have more than one loss to deal with at
a time. Talking about each separate loss may help identify the person's
feelings. Separating losses from one another may also help the person feel less
overwhelmed and more able to cope with emotional distress.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerSidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry