Recognizing Limitations Following the Loss of a Spouse
The elderly can be severely affected by the loss of a spouse. Emotional, mental and physical stamina can be greatly diminished, especially if the surviving spouse had been the caregiver for their spouse. It can be very difficult for the Senior to recognize the need for help and even harder to ask or allow others to help.
Things to watch for:
Poor nutrition and appetite / picking at food
Irregular sleep patterns / complaints of not sleeping well
Not taking medications properly / skipping or missing doses
Isolation - wanting to be alone including loss of interest in things once enjoyed
While all of these things can be normal during the grieving process they come with risk to those of elder years. The risks can include Dehydration, Poor Nutrition, Medication Errors, Depression and Falls – all of which can lead to an ER visit and hospitalization. The biggest risk is failing to thrive and giving up the will to live any longer.
How you can help!
Make arrangements for the Senior to have someone stay with them for a few weeks or have them stay with family or friends until they have had time to adjust and gain their strength back.
Be sure they have someone to eat with during meal times
Help with their medications and give needed reminders
Conduct a safety check in the home looking for loose rugs, cords and trip hazards. Install night lights.
If circumstances don’t allow for you to be there consider a Respite “short” stay at an Assisted Living community or Adult Family Home. The staff will ensure they are receiving good nutrition, hydration, medication management and socialization all in a supportive environment. They will also find other Seniors who can relate to their loss they have experienced which can provide great comfort.