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How The Elderly Cope With The Death Of A Spouse

1106 words - 4 pages

Ever noticed an elderly couple performing normal daily activities and think to yourself, what would they do without one another? Many of us have elderly relatives who are either married or have someone with whom they have a tight bond with, such as a best friend, and we believe they keep each other alive. We are all born to die, but how we cope with death is different. When someone dies, persons affected may feel depressed, sad and even angry. Looking at death from a different perspective, such as a loved one going to a better place, instead of a loss can cause relatives to celebrate. This is usually the case when the cause of death is natural. When death of a spouse is because of a traumatic event, love ones are left with many questions that they can live with for the rest of their lives. We may continue to live normal lives once the emotional pain is suppressed. I use the term suppress, because it is not clear that anyone ever "gets over" the death of a loved one. Bereavement in the elderly can cause the partner to become lonely, fall ill, and often times die soon after.
When an older adults life long partner dies, what is their mental state? According to Lund, the mental health of many older spouses is not as devastating as expected, although loneliness and problems associated with the tasks of living are the most common and difficult adjustments of the adult (Meiner, 2011). Research reported to Journal of Gerontologic Nursing (JOGN) indicates that the assessment tool, Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), can asses the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with separation distress including … excessive loneliness (Barron & Minton, 2008). Additionally, another test can be done to assess the progress in bereavement process known as the 10-Mile Mourning Bridge. This assessment is on a scale of 0-10, 0 meaning grieving has not started and 10 meaning that the person is well over the emotional stress and can move on with their live (Meiner, 2011). Loneliness can be part of the grieving process in such cases where no one can empathize with you. Loneliness can be prevented by having relatives or friends participate in daily activities such as dinner, shopping, providing entertainment, and holding conversations. A lonely person may choose not to eat, bathe and take care of their health because their self worth has diminished. Correspondingly, a person may avoid going out and isolate themselves. Therefore, it is so important to have someone to check on a grieving elderly person.
Following the death of a companion, the older adult may suddenly become unhealthy. Elderly widowed people experience a profound degree of loneliness, which has been found to cause an increase in the level of medical care, medications and mortality (Howie & Mcintyre, 2002). The health of that adult was most likely maintained by the relationship with the now deceased because they felt they had something to live for. Also, the...

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