How To Help A Senior With A Big Life Change
After Losing A Spouse ~ Written by Hazel Bridges
Losing a spouse can be one of the most difficult and life-changing things a person goes through; it can lead to sadness, depression, substance abuse, and an inability to cope with other major changes, such as moving. For seniors, the possibility of having these other major life changes occur after the passing of a spouse is increased as they are likely to be coping with health issues, downsizing the home, and dealing with all the stressful details in the aftermath of the death. (Photo via Pixabay by Soser206)
If you have a loved one who has just experienced the loss of a spouse or partner, it’s important to know the best ways to be supportive of them and know what the warning signs of depression and substance abuse are.
Here are some of the best ways to help a senior who is grieving for their spouse.
Do some research
If you feel your loved one is suffering from depression or substance abuse, it’s important to realize that they can go hand-in-hand. In some cases, one will make the other worse, and the symptoms are similar for both. They include:
- Changes in sleeping and eating habits
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Sudden mood swings or behavioral changes
- Using mouthwash or mints excessively
- Changes in hygiene
- Having a hard time making decisions or coping with everyday life
Because substance abuse can exacerbate the symptoms of depression, some sufferers are at risk for suicidal thoughts. Listen to your loved one and let him know you’re there for him. Offer to help him find support, either through a counselor, therapist, or support group. Even if he’s not ready yet to talk about what happened, having a compiled list of resources will be a huge help when he is ready.
For more information about depression and substance abuse in the elderly population, read on here.
Help your loved one practice self-care
Dealing with a big life change and trying to cope with the loss of a spouse at the same time can be extremely overwhelming, so it’s important for your loved one to practice self-care during this time. Help him get up and get moving by offering to go for a daily walk, or suggest that he get a dog. Animals can be wonderful companions and are also great motivators when it’s time to get in a workout, and daily exercise can be really helpful for an individual who is suffering from depression.
Another great non-prescription option to explore is the vast world of essential oils. Aromatherapy can be a great, non addictive addition to a grieving senior’s routine. Oils like lavender and lemon balm are known for their ability to calm strong emotions and relieve anxious feelings and stress, whereas oils like bergamot and ginger have been shown to encourage appetite.
Help your loved one find relaxing hobbies, help him get social with friends or other widowers, and encourage him to attend church if he’s been active there in the past. Self-care can be just about anything that makes a person happy, as long as it’s done in a healthy way.
Your loved one’s spouse may have been responsible for the grocery shopping, cooking, or managing the budget, and now that they are gone, your loved one is suddenly thrust into unknown territory. Help make life a little easier for them by creating a cookbook with simple recipes such as casseroles and slow-cooker meals that can be enjoyed throughout the week or frozen for a later time. If your loved one isn’t comfortable in the kitchen, stop in at the beginning of each week and work together to whip up meals for the week or hire help-- they will surely enjoy the company too.
As for grocery shopping, help them create a basic list to stick to each week that factors in their budget. Some stores offer online grocery shopping as well with curbside pick-up, taking the stress out of a trip to the store. Whether it’s by visiting a few times a week to do the dishes or mow the lawn, or hiring a helper to come take care of the laundry and cooking, having help with the small stuff can really simplify things, making life much easier for your senior loved one.
Remind him that there’s no grief schedule
Grief takes a toll, and living with it for days and weeks and months on end can make it feel like there is no way out. Remind your loved one that grief does not adhere to a schedule, and that he’ll know when he’s ready to move on. Being patient with ourselves during difficult times is an important part of coping.
Keep communication open with your loved one and encourage him to talk about his feelings when he’s ready. Don’t push; this can make depression or substance abuse worse. Let him know that you’re there to listen and help when he needs it.
Written by Hazel Bridges
Essential Oil Support for Seniors
Cholesterol Support Use Lemongrass, or Lavender Take 1 drop internally in 8oz of water or apply 1-2 drop topically to back of neck, wrists or bottoms of feet.
Weak/Tired Peppermint and Lemon are invigorating and can lift mood. Add a couple drops to your hands and inhale. Breathe (respiratory blend) inhaled or applied to area of concern can also help.
Leg Discomfort~ Apply Deep Blue Rub, Deep blue oil, Frankincense or Lemongrass on Leg to relieve discomfort. You can add your coconut oil on lotion to carry the oils further. Only use 1-2 drops topically.
Dizziness Breathe Peppermint out of the bottle or put one drop in hands and inhale.
Seasonal Threats Breathe (respiratory blend) will open airways. Just add 1 drop to hands, rub together and inhale. You can also add a little (1-2 drops) to your chest (use with 3 drops coconut oil to carry it).
The seasonal threat relief is 1-2 drops of each lemon, lavender and peppermint in a shot glass. Fill with water, swish and swallow. If this is too intense, you can also apply 1-2 drops of each topically to back of neck, wrists or bottoms of feet. Also, add 1 drop of each to hands, rub together and inhale.
Strength The Lifelong Vitality vitamins are the best thing for strength. I also suggest Frankincense 1-2 drops of each topically to back of neck, wrists or bottoms of feet. Frankincense helps build and maintain a healthy immune system, Promotes cellular health , Reduces the appearance of blemishes and rejuvenates skin Supports healthy immune system function. It also Promotes feelings of peace, relaxation, satisfaction, and overall wellness. Peppermint or Breathe inhaled out of the bottle or 1-2 drops on hand can also help.
Numbness Apply 1-2 drops Frankincense on location.
Sleep Apply 1-2 drops Lavender, Serenity or Frankincense on bottoms of feet, back of neck or on inside of wrists. You can also put 1 drop in hands, rub together and inhale.
Boost Immune System OnGuard (protective blend) 1 drop internally in a 8 oz glass of water or a warm mug of water. You can also apply topically bottoms of feet.
Throat Discomfort 1-2 drops Melaleuca on the outside of throat.
Minor Scrape or Bruise Add 1-2 drops lavender on location then 1-2 drops melaleuca to kill germs.
Balance Balance (grounding blend), Cedarwood, Ginger or Vetiver. You can inhale out of the bottle or apply topically to back of neck, wrists or bottoms of feet.
God Bless you as you heal emotionally and physically.
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