By the time your senior has reached a certain age, she’s likely experienced a great deal of loss in her life. But at this stage, she’s losing more than people she loves. She may be losing things like the ability to drive or her mobility. The grieving process for these losses can be more complicated than you or she might expect it would be.
Give Her Time and Space to Grieve
Any type of loss is difficult to manage. Your senior needs a little bit of space and time in which to deal with her feelings and to sort through how those feelings are affecting her. If she is rushed or isn’t able to have that time and space, she may not be able to work through her feelings in the way that she needs to.
Find Concrete Ways to Help
There might be some tasks that are more difficult for your elderly family member to handle on her own while she’s dealing with her grief. Depression can make keeping up with household tasks much more difficult, for instance. Taking over some of those tasks for her or finding ways to lighten her task load in other ways can be significantly helpful.
Help Her to Interact with Others
When your senior is grieving, she’s more likely to isolate. That means that she might not be as open to seeing people she cares about or may stop participating in activities. If she’s grieving something like her new driving restrictions, this can have an even bigger impact on her ability to reach out to others. It’s vital that she’s got an alternative option, such as having elder care providers who can do the driving for her.
Work with Her to Establish New Habits
Part of the grieving process involves the fact that some routines and habits that your senior used to have are now gone or irrevocably changed. Establishing new habits and routines can help your senior to find new ways to interact with the people around her and to manage her grief. Remember, though, that in giving her time and space you shouldn’t press her to change these habits on your timetable.
No matter what type of loss is contributing to your senior’s grief, you can be there for her. What she needs from you and from others in her life might vary from time to time, so make sure that you’re paying attention to what her needs truly are rather than what you suspect she needs.