Helping a Senior Move Forward

Tips for Helping a Senior Move Forward After the Loss of a Spouse

Losing a loved one is overwhelming at any stage of life. For seniors, losing a spouse can be especially devastating. Being widowed late in life can mean more than the loss of a best friend or soul mate, but also a caregiver. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help during this difficult time.

Be Proactive to Fight Loneliness

Studies show that grieving seniors may experience loneliness so deeply it leads to other mental and physical health problems. Psychology Today notes that “along with increased depression and risk of suicide, seniors dealing with the death of a spouse are also more likely to engage in risky health behavior, including smoking, drug or alcohol abuse, failing to care for themselves, or generally becoming more inactive.”

What can you suggest to a grieving senior who feels lonely? The National Institute on Aging explains that many seniors have never lived alone. These experts offer some great resources. Here are some of their recommendations for grieving seniors:

  • Spend time with friends.

  • Join a grief support group or see a counselor. Find an outlet where he or she feels comfortable sharing about the loss.

  • Watch grandchildren.

  • Adopt a pet.

  • Take a class or join a community group.

  • Exercise and get enough sleep.

  • Volunteer.

  • Eat right. Mealtime can be an especially painful time for the bereaved. Even turning on a radio or television can help.

Remember that there is no set timeframe for grief. There are good days and bad days, and the pain can be both physical and emotional. Also, this loss can mean undertaking responsibilities that used to belong to the other partner, such as paying bills, doing the yard work, cooking, or making home repairs. Learning these new tasks can be scary and stressful, and seniors may need assistance.

It May be Time to Move

Following the loss of a spouse, it may be time to consider relocating. Experts cite many reasons seniors might consider moving:

House size. A smaller home can be easier to maintain as well as less expensive.

Design and accessibility. You should consider not only current health but keep in mind future issues when selecting a home. Some experts recommend that you inspect entrances to the home for feasibility. Climbing stairs could become a problem, and bathrooms may require modification.

Location. Many seniors move to be closer to family. Also, being able to walk to do shopping and close proximity to public transportation can be important considerations.

Selling and Buying a Home

Moving is complicated under the best of circumstances, but to do so during other life changes can be especially overwhelming. The National Association of Realtors offers a designation called Seniors Real Estate Specialists for realtors who specialize in these transactions. There may be special tax considerations that apply, and pensions and IRA’s can play a role in the sale. These realtors also can assist with finding a new home, and will take into account your senior’s special needs.

The Assisted Living Option

Senior living communities have a lot to offer and are the best choice for many seniors. They typically have amenities like laundry and housekeeping services, medical support, transportation, restaurant style meals, and recreational programs. You may want to review The Senior Citizen’s Guide of what to look for if you are considering this option.

Moving Forward

There are several things you can do to help a senior through the loss of a spouse. Keeping seniors from becoming lonely is extremely important for their well-being. It may be time to consider relocating as well. A home that is smaller and easier to maintain can improve life for many seniors, and some seniors will do better in assisted living. Whatever works best, it is most important that you help your grieving senior move forward.

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2025 W. 5700 S. Roy, Utah  84067

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