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Grief: Helping Older Adults With Grief


Table of Contents


Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.   Grief: Helping Older Adults With Grief

Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  What is different about older adults who are grieving?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Why does an older adult who is grieving need help?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  How can you help an older adult who is grieving?
Actionsets help people take an active role in managing a health condition.  Where to go from here

What? - What is the medical information or key concepts related to the action?  What is different about older adults who are grieving?

Older adults express their grief in the same ways as younger and middle-aged adults. But because of their age and other life circumstances, older adults may:

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Older adults express their grief in the same ways as other adults.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Older adults express their grief in the same ways as other adults. But they may experience several losses at the same time.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Older adults express their grief in the same ways as other adults. But they may experience several losses at the same time.


  2. Older adults are very willing to tell other people that they are grieving.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Older adults may not be very willing to tell other people that they are grieving. They may not tell others that they are grieving losses related to aging. And they may be unwilling to tell other people how sad they feel when they see or care for older loved ones who are ill or aging.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Older adults may not be very willing to tell other people that they are grieving. They may not tell others that they are grieving losses related to aging. And they may be unwilling to tell other people how sad they feel when they see or care for older loved ones who are ill or aging.


Why? - Why the action is important?  Why does an older adult who is grieving need help?

Older adults are more likely to become physically ill after experiencing a major loss. They may already have long-term physical illnesses or other conditions that interfere with their ability to grieve. The symptoms of these illnesses may become worse when they are grieving.

Some older adults may develop unresolved grief or complications associated with grieving. This may occur more often in older adults because they are more likely to experience:

In addition, some older adults need more time than other people to adjust to change. Adjusting to change may be hard for them and cause them added emotional stress.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Older adults have a lot of experience with loss, so they grieve less than other adults.

    1. True

      This answer is incorrect.

      Older adults have a lot of experience with loss, but they do not grieve less than other adults. Older adults are more likely to develop unresolved grief or other conditions associated with grieving than other adults.

    2. False

      This answer is correct.

      Older adults have a lot of experience with loss, but they do not grieve less than other adults. Older adults are more likely to develop unresolved grief or other conditions associated with grieving than other adults.


  2. Older adults often become physically ill after a major loss.

    1. True

      This answer is correct.

      Older adults are more likely to become physically ill after a major loss.

    2. False

      This answer is incorrect.

      Older adults are more likely to become physically ill after a major loss.


How? - Learn the steps involved in taking action.  How can you help an older adult who is grieving?

Ways you can help an older adult who is grieving include:

Older adults often have more than one loss to deal with at a time. Talking about each separate loss may help identify the person's feelings. Separating losses from one another may also help the person feel less overwhelmed and more able to cope with emotional distress.

Test Your Knowledge

  1. I can help an older adult who is grieving by:

    1. Telling the person that feelings are not important and that he or she should just think about something else.

      This answer is incorrect.

      You cannot help an older adult who is grieving by telling the person that feelings are not important and that he or she should just think about something else. Asking the person to talk about his or her loss often helps the person who is grieving. Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses over a short period of time, are often helped when they share memories of the lost person.

    2. Asking the person to tell me about the loss (person, object, or situation).

      This answer is correct.

      You can help an older adult who is grieving by asking the person to tell you about the loss (person, object, or situation). Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses over a short period of time, are often helped when they share memories of the lost person.

    3. Reminding the person that we all get old.

      This answer is incorrect.

      You cannot help an older adult who is grieving by reminding the person that we all get old. Asking the person to talk about his or her loss often helps the person who is grieving. Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses over a short period of time, are often helped when they share memories of the lost person.

    4. Making the person stay very busy.

      This answer is incorrect.

      You cannot help an older adult who is grieving by making the person stay very busy. Asking the person to talk about his or her loss often helps the person who is grieving. Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses over a short period of time, are often helped when they share memories of the lost person.


Where? - Other resources and organizations that can help you take action.  Where to go from here

Now that you have read this information, you are ready to help an older adult who is grieving.

Talk with a health professional

If you have questions about this information, take it with you when you visit your health professional. You may want to use a highlighter to mark areas or make notes in the margins of the pages where you have questions.

If you would like more information on helping an older adult who is grieving, the following resources are available:

Organizations

Caring Connections
Phone: 1-800-658-8898 help line
Phone: 1-877-658-8896 multilingual line (toll-free)
Phone: (703) 837-1500
Email: caringinfo@nhpco.org
Web Address: www.caringinfo.org
 

Caring Connections, a program of the U.S. National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), seeks to improve care at the end of life. Caring Connections provides free resources, including educational brochures, advance directives and hospice information, and a toll-free help line for people looking for quality end-of-life information.


Mental Health America
2000 North Beauregard Street, 6th Floor
Alexandria, VA 22311
Phone: 1-800-969-NMHA (1-800-969-6642) referral service for help with depression
(703) 684-7722
Fax: (703) 684-5968
Web Address: www.mentalhealthamerica.net
 

Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is a nonprofit agency devoted to helping people of all ages live mentally healthier lives. Its website has information about mental health conditions. It also addresses issues such as grief, stress, bullying, and more. It includes a confidential depression screening test for anyone who would like to take it. The short test may help you decide whether your symptoms are related to depression.


Credits for Grief: Helping Older Adults With Grief

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Sidney Zisook, MD - Psychiatry
Last Revised October 17, 2011

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