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Helping a Senior Loved One Deal with Anticipatory Grief

By Cherie Coe, 9:00 am on

As our loved ones age, so do their peers and spouses. It can be a rocky journey for them to not only confront their own mortality, but also manage the declining health and impending losses of those they’ve shared moments with for a lifetime.

Anticipatory grief comes in many forms, but before at-home caregivers can help elderly loved ones manage such feelings, it’s important to understand the condition.

Grief is often spoken about as something that occurs after someone’s passing. But when death is anticipated, grief typically creeps in before death actually occurs. The symptoms of anticipatory grief are much the same as grief after a loved one’s passing. However, Jefferson home care professionals note that finality and closure can be replaced with uncertainty, anxiety, and fear.

Without proper awareness, anticipatory grief can seize control of your elderly loved one’s life and impair proper coping abilities. If you are able to recognize the symptoms early, you’ll be better prepared to offer kind, loving guidance. Signs to watch for include:

  • Depression
  • Obsession with the dying person
  • Over preparation for the loss
  • Numbness
  • Detachment
  • Anger
  • Fluctuating moods
  • Irritability
  • Guilt

Loss can be profoundly startling. When cues are given that death is inevitably in the near future, your loved one may be continually overcome with emotion. Helping our loved ones understand what they are going through, talking about how they feel, and letting them know their reactions are normal will lighten the load. Though anticipatory grief can be overwhelming, it is often a great gift to the dying and those who care for them. It’s a time for healing and closure that’s not possible with sudden death.

Encourage your loved one to comfort the dying and reminisce, and assist in putting the circumstances into a larger, spiritual framework. Those who feel overburdened should seek qualified professionals to help them cope.

After the passing of a spouse, many seniors withdraw and risk becoming socially isolated, which can have serious mental, physical, and emotional consequences. Ensure your senior loved one has the necessary companionship in the wake of a loved one’s passing with help from the dedicated staff at Home Care Assistance. Our hourly and live-in caregivers in Jefferson County can act as a pillar of strength and support for your loved one and help with everyday tasks he or she one may not be ready or used to taking on. For more information, please call us at (303) 987-5992 . We are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.