How To Help Seniors Cope With Grief
The winter holiday season can be a joyous one, with families gathering together and friends catching up with one another. However, for many people, the winter holiday season can be challenging. Legend Senior Living is here to provide support and expert advice on the best ways to cope with loss during the holidays, as we want to ensure our readers know they are cared for.
Whether this is your family member’s first holiday without a loved one or if you are just looking for ways to help your senior family member cope with grief, here are a few steps to take.
Keep Up with Traditions
Traditions are important because they offer us the opportunity to reminisce about the past while still having something in the present to look forward to. While it might seem strange to maintain your family’s traditions in the face of grief, it can actually be a positive step for your loved one’s mental health and for yours.
If a tradition seems too difficult to manage or plan this year, consider scaling it back a bit. For example, if your loved one doesn’t want to put up their big Christmas tree because it doesn’t seem worth it, see if you can put up a smaller one with favorite ornaments instead. You can always revisit that big tree next year. Or, if your loved one doesn’t want to host the family’s baking party, see if someone else can host this year or see if everyone can pitch in to take the hosting burden off of your loved one.
Talk About It
Talking about grief is especially helpful if this is your family member’s first holiday without a loved one. Unfortunately, grief is an uncomfortable emotion, which makes some people afraid to talk about it. However, speaking about someone who has died or a loss that has occurred is a wonderful way to honor that person as well as to provide healing to the person who is grieving. You know your loved one best, so watch for their verbal and nonverbal signs that they may want to talk about how they are feeling. Open up the conversation with something simple like, “I’m missing Dad today. How are you feeling?”
Talking about loss doesn’t take the grief away, but it does offer the opportunity to talk about feelings and gain new insight. Counseling or therapy sessions can be the ideal place to work through these heavy feelings. Ask your loved one’s physician for recommendations for clinicians that specialize in seniors and loss. Then, see if your loved one would like to try a few sessions to see how they feel.
Increase Your Check-Ins
The holiday season is busy and your schedule is already packed with professional and personal obligations. However, if you can, be sure you are increasing the number of check-ins you have with your older loved one. Isolation and loneliness can negatively affect the health of seniors, and it can get worse during the holiday season. A quick check-in over the phone or in person can go a long way in reminding your loved one you are thinking of them and it gives you the chance to see how they are doing.
If you can’t check in more often, enlist the help of your siblings, family members, and neighbors. Create a schedule to make sure someone is checking in on your loved one every few days.
Helping the elderly cope with grief is challenging, especially if you are grieving a particular loss as well. If you feel out of your league or if your loved one needs some additional support, get their physician involved sooner than later.
Here’s to a peaceful holiday season for you and your family.