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Coping with Grief and Loss in Seniors

As we go through our lives, experiencing grief and sadness at the loss of a friend or family member can be stressful and traumatic. For elder people, who may experience more loss as they get older and their friends and family members age along with them, this grief can be particularly challenging. Losing someone as important as a spouse or a family member is extremely hurtful, but losing things like independence and personal mobility can also be traumatic. Keeping an eye out and caring for our elder friends and relatives, especially in a time of loss, is an important part of ensuring that they can live the happiest and healthiest life possible, no matter their age.

Here are some tips for helping elders cope with loss and feelings of sadness.

  • Listening and encouraging them to talk

Whenever each of us goes through a stressful or depressing time, it’s important to feel like you’re not alone in the struggle. This applies even more so to elder people, who may not have the same social life they did when they were younger, and in fact may be mourning someone in their social circle. It’s important for elders to have someone to talk to about how they’re feeling, someone who really listens to them and validates how they’re feeling. By talking about sadness or loss, they can start the process towards feeling better and continuing on with the good things in their life. Encouraging your elder friends and relatives to talk about good memories they’ve had with who or what they lost can also help process grief.

  • Help with a daily routine and activities

Part of experiencing grief is a feeling of disconnect between ourselves and our own lives. Distracted by feelings, it can be difficult to maintain a routine that we may have had and participate in activities that we usually enjoy. For elders especially, it can be easy to slip out of a healthy and fulfilling routine and feel less stable and less in control of their own lives. Helping our elder relatives and friends to maintain these routines can go a long way in “grounding” them and helping them process their grief. In addition, encouraging them to continue activities that they usually enjoy (even if they don’t feel like it right now) can help them move forward in their own lives and continue to live healthily and happily.

  • Consider outside support

Support groups provide us with a safe environment to share experiences and connect with other who may be experiencing or feeling a similar way. By participating in these types of groups, elders can feel less alone in processing how they are feeling and how they are adjusting to loss. Socially, it’s important to be reminded that other people empathize with how they’re feeling and may even offer insight on healthy ways to move forward. In addition, counseling to address a particular mood or long-term feeling can also help. By working with a counselor, elders can work through and process their grief and develop strategies for maintaining a healthy life in elderhood.

Coping with grief and loss is difficult for seniors, who may be already thinking about their own lives and their elder years, but with support and healthy encouragement, they can begin to heal and find comfort. When helping our elder relatives and friends cope with loss and sadness, it’s important to listen and encourage, help keep up a routine and activities, and consider outside social help. These strategies can help your loved one cope with grief and loss and find comfort in the midst of difficult times.

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Senior Steps is a full-service geriatric care management company offering top-quality, personalized care to elderly clients on Boston’s South Shore. We offer free consultations, so call us today at 617-405-8796 or e-mail us at if you would like to chat about how we can help you or an elderly loved one with medical, financial, or legal advocacy, or activities of daily living.

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