Making Sense of Loss:
5 Ways You Can Support a Senior Who Has Lost a Spouse
No one is ever the same after losing a spouse. For older adults, losing their life partner can leave them feeling helpless, confused and overwhelmed. Unfortunately, there are a lot of loose ends that need to be tied up after the death of a loved one. That’s why it is important to find ways to support friends and family, and especially seniors, throughout this seemingly impossible process. Here are six elements to consider when supporting a senior through the loss of their spouse.
Get Help to Figure Out Their Finances
Thinking about money seems pointless when dealing with loss. Unfortunately, there are many costs to consider when someone has died. During these difficult times, it can be helpful to consult a financial planner to sort through life insurance policies and matters dealing with estates. Seniors often need assistance to figure out how to go about paying for burial expenses and final medical bills, while ensuring they will have enough to cover their own budget. Consulting a professional makes sense to avoid further financial complications.
Assist With Memorial Service Plans
There are quite a few decisions to be made when deciding how best to memorialize a loved one. A senior who has lost their spouse may be in no shape to make these final choices on their own, but you can help by providing assistance. Ask around about funeral homes and services in their area, and then sit down and talk about their spouse’s final wishes before meeting with funeral planners. Keep their budget in mind when handling this business, since funeral expenses can easily get out of control. For some, cremation may be a better option, so help them keep an open mind while planning services.
Be Prepared to Discuss Other Important Decisions
Memorial plans are usually not the only tough decisions that need to be made after the death of a senior spouse. While in these initial stages of mourning, it’s important to think through any choices that could impact the rest of your loved one’s life. Many times, older adults may want to stay in their current home for sentimental reasons, but moving could be the better choice in terms of finances. Moving to a smaller home can also make day-to-day life more manageable, especially for seniors with accessibility needs. Sit down with your loved one and talk about these important choices, but try to encourage them to wait to make any life-changing decisions.
Get Help With Home and Personal Responsibilities
When a senior loses their spouse, they are also losing half of the support around their house. Getting chores done alone can prove impossible for a grieving widow, but luckily, there are ways you can help. If you have time, take care of some of the cleaning and housework for them. Think about enlisting the help of other friends and family members. If you can’t find free help or room in your own schedule, consider helping the widower hire assistance. Paying someone to cook, clean or take care of yard work can take a lot of stress off of a senior in distress.
Stay Strong During The Funeral
Helping out with the household, planning and social support is a wonderful way to care for a grieving loved one, but they will need extra support on the day of the funeral. It’s important for them to be able to focus on saying goodbye, so try to take care of little tasks for them throughout the day. If they have pets, arrange for someone to feed them and take them on walks. Pick up or prepare some trays of comforting food, and have plenty of water available for them to drink throughout the day. While your loved one may not feel like eating or drinking, proper nutrition and hydration will help them stay strong enough for the difficult days ahead.
Saying goodbye to a spouse is never easy. Your love and support, however, can ease some of the additional stress a grieving senior is experiencing. With small steps, you can help guide them through their grief process and put their life back in order.
Jason Lewis is passionate about helping seniors stay healthy and injury-free. He created StrongWell.org to share his tips on senior fitness. In 2002 he became the primary caretaker for his mother after her surgery. From then on, he made it his advocacy to help fellow caregivers in ensuring wellness for seniors.
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