WellSpan Home

Grief: Helping Older Adults With Grief

Introduction

  • Older adults often have many major losses within a short period of time. For example, an older adult who loses a partner may suffer many losses, including financial security, his or her best friend, and social contacts.
  • The natural aging process brings many losses, such as loss of independence and physical strength.
  • Older adults may seem to overreact to a minor loss. What is considered a minor loss may bring memories and feelings about a previous greater loss.

How can you help an older adult who is grieving?

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

  • Giving the person time. Sometimes older adults need more time to become aware of their feelings and express them. Sometimes they need more time to complete other activities as well. Giving an older person extra time shows that you are concerned and respectful of the person's needs.
  • Pointing out signs of sadness or changes in behavior. This may help the person become aware of his or her feelings and may help the person feel more comfortable talking with you about how he or she feels.
  • Spending time with the person. An older adult who often seems to be alone can benefit from your company. Invite him or her to go for a walk or have a cup of coffee. Feelings of loneliness may last for a long time when an older adult has lost something or someone special, especially a spouse.
  • Talking about the loss. Ask the person to talk about his or her loss. Older people, especially those who have experienced several losses over a short period of time, are often helped by sharing memories of the lost person.
  • Watching for signs of prolonged grieving or depression. If you have concerns that an older adult is having difficulty working through his or her grieving, talk with a health professional.

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.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerJean S. Kutner, MD, MSPH - Geriatric Medicine, Palliative Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

Current as ofOctober 6, 2017


Are you sure you would like to cancel?

All information will be lost.

Yes No ×

About the provider search

This search will provide you with WellSpan Medical Group and Northern Lancaster County (Ephrata) Medical Group primary care physicians and specialists. If we don’t have a WellSpan Medical Group physician to meet your criteria, the search will expand to include community physicians who partner with WellSpan Medical Group physicians through the WellSpan Provider Network or provide care to patients on the Medical Staffs of WellSpan’s Hospitals.

×

Schedule Your Next Appointment Online with MyWellSpan

Use your MyWellSpan patient portal any time to view available appointments, and pick the date and time that best suits your schedule.

Go to MyWellSpan

New to this practice?

If you don't have a WellSpan primary care provider and would like to schedule a new patient appointment with a provider who is accepting patients, just log into your MyWellSpan account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to see the offices that are accepting new patients in relation to your zip code. If you are not enrolled in MyWellSpan, go to https://my.wellspan.org, call 1-866-638-1842 or speak with a member of the staff at a participating facility to sign up. New patient scheduling not available at all practices/programs.

Already a patient at this practice?

If you already have a relationship with a WellSpan practice, simply log into your account, and go to the Appointment Center section. As you progress through the scheduling process, you will be able to schedule an appointment with any provider or practice that already counts you as a patient. Online scheduling varies by practice/program.

×