Understanding the Grieving Process and how to Support a Widowed Parent
Having a widowed parent is a heartbreaking and difficult situation. Interacting with an elderly loved one as they manage a newfound feeling of loneliness can be a daunting task for some. Family caretakers become accustomed to ensuring that basic necessities such as food and clothing are provided, however, it is immensely important to also monitor the mental health and well-being of our widowed loved ones.
A proactive régime can play a critical role in maintaining a healthy body and mind in the later years of our lives. However, widows and widowers can often regress towards an introverted state, becoming overwhelmed with loneliness, helplessness and boredom. Caregivers.org has provided a quick guide to assist family caretakers in catering to the mental health of their widowed loved ones.
Allow Time for Grieving
Grief is a process and cannot be identified as a singular event. Allow your parent to grieve and encourage them to discuss their loss with friends, family or a professional grief counselor. Often times, the best person to speak with is another griever as they can empathize with and understand the situation. Local hospice programs or Compassionate Friends groups offer beneficial group seminars designed to assist with the grieving process. While it is normal to be sad during the grieving process, if the feelings become more severe and persistent they can develop into serious depression. It is important to seek out professional help in these scenarios.
Keep your Parent Occupied with Fun Events
Widowed parents may begin to adhere to a monotonous routine that can make them feel “stuck in a rut.” By planning special events and activities, you afford your parent something they can look forward to. These do not have to be elaborate or expensive ideas to be successful. For example, bringing the grandkids over every-other Friday and having family cooking night can help strengthen a family bond and serve as a fulfilling experience for your parent in a time of need.
Consider Outside Help
As a family caregiver, it can be quite stressful alternating between managing your own responsibilities, career and family and catering to your widowed parent. It is not always possible for you to be present when your loved one could use a helping hand. A professional in-home caregiver can offer seniors a companion to talk with or help with daily activities and housekeeping. These caregivers can also assist with medication reminders and food preparation. Additionally, if you only require aid for a short period of time, some assisted living facilities offer short-term stays. Support from a professional caregiver can be instrumental in improving the quality of living for your loved one while simultaneously allowing you to manage your own life.
Keep your Loved One Active
Research your surrounding community for facilities, such as senior centers, that offer activities suited for seniors. Enrichment classes, games and enjoying meals in the company of others are simple ways to help improve the mental health and well-being of your elderly loved ones. If your loved one prefers to stay at-home, there are meal delivery services available that accompany a fresh meal with a brief social visit. These activities will allow your parent or loved one to remain social and engaged while removing some of the responsibilities from your docket.
If your parent chooses to stay at home, you might have concerns about how they will traverse the stairs in their home without your assistance. A Stannah Stairlift can help reduce some of the stress that accompanies caring for an elderly loved one. With more than 150 years of experience, Stannah is one of the most respected names in the industry and a Stannah Stairlift will ensure your elderly loved ones are able to navigate their homes safely and independently.
Taking steps such as these can help alleviate a large portion of the negative feelings that accompany the grieving process. However, it is important to realize that while these tactics do benefit your parent, a healthy recovery from grieving cannot be rushed. While it may be difficult to ever fully recuperate, continued support and love from family and friends will make a significant difference in how they continue their lives without their significant other.