One of the toughest things about growing old is experiencing so much grief, watching close friends and family members pass away. This grief takes a toll and can often leave elderly people feeling chronically depressed.
If you have an elderly family member who’s experienced some intense grief, there are a few ways you can help them shoulder their burden. The best thing you can do is be there to listen to them. If they bring up their deceased friend and seem like they are eager to talk, engage them with some questions. Ask them to share some favorite memories of their friend. By the same token, though, it’s important to let your elderly family member steer the discussion—and if they seem reluctant to talk, don’t force it on them.
Often, it’s meaningful just to spend time with your elderly family member. Find an activity that you can do together, even if it’s as simple as working a puzzle, going for a brief walk, or sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee. Help them occupy their time and attention, and to see that they’re not alone.
It’s also important that you ensure your elderly family members take care of themselves. Grief can sometimes cause individuals to forsake regular meals or to have a hard time sleeping at night. Ask your loved one how they’re doing and encourage them to take care of themselves as best they can. You can help by offering to bring them food, take them out to a favorite restaurant, or simply keep them company as they go out for some fresh air and a change of scenery.
Grief is hard at any age, and those who are a bit older may feel it more acutely. There are steps you can take to help them, though, and to give them someone to lean on during their season of bereavement.