Dealing with the loss of a spouse from a chronic illness like Parkinson’s is one of the most life-changing experiences a person can have. When it happens during our senior years, it can be even more devastating because it often brings even bigger life changes such as selling a home, moving, or considering assisted living or in-home care. The worries that come with planning a funeral, dealing with a new set of finances, and living alone can be overwhelming, and it’s very easy for depression to set in.
It’s important to find ways to help a loved one who has just lost a spouse get back on their feet when they’re ready. The mourning period is different for everyone, so keep in mind that it may take months or even years before things get a little better, and that’s okay. Try to be patient and remember that your loved one must come to terms with the loss at their own pace.
Here, we detail some of the ways you can help your loved one feel less lonely after such a difficult loss.
Get Some Help
As much as you might want to, you can’t do everything or be at your loved one’s side all the time. Consider hiring a housekeeper to come in a few times a week to help with daily chores, which will not only ease your loved one’s stress a bit, but ensure that they are not alone every day. It’s an easy way to alleviate burdens and ensure some essentials are covered.
You don’t have to be at your loved one’s side at all hours, but you can get involved in their life a bit. Find out what their favorite things to do are and ask to join in. Whether it’s gardening, walking, or engaging in a creative pursuit such as sewing or woodworking, you can find a way to join your loved one in something that makes them happy, which will help the two of you strengthen your bond.
Depression and grief can take a toll on our emotions and ability to function, so as Blue Moon Senior Counseling notes, sometimes people in mourning have a hard time staying social. Find ways to help your loved one meet new people and get active in their community; they might join a local committee or a water aerobics club or get involved in the church. Whatever makes them happiest, encourage them to get out there and go for it.
One option is reconnecting with old classmates and acquaintances. If they don’t have social media, they can use a search engine to find old friends. They just have to type in the graduation date, school, and person’s name to find them. In no time they can find many classmates from the Tucson area.
Help a Sale
Selling their home may become an eventuality, but this can be an emotionally and financially challenging process. To help make it easier on your loved one, help them connect with an experienced real estate agent. An agent will be able to determine the fair market value of the home and provide advice on how to prepare it for sale. It is also a good idea to help your loved one collect any necessary documentation they might need for the sale. This includes any appliance records, the deed, mortgaging information, receipts for upgrades and possibly homeowners insurance information.
Help with Transportation
For some seniors, the desire to get out and get social is there, but the means aren’t. Offer to help with rides, or assist your loved one in obtaining a bus pass or learn how to use a senior ride service. This will not only help them get out and see their friends, but will increase their sense of self-confidence and independence.
Consider a Pet
If they doesn’t already have one, ask your loved one if they would be interested in owning a pet. Dogs and cats are wonderful companions and can actually help lower blood pressure and relieve feelings of depression and anxiety in many people. Offer to take your loved one to a local shelter to look at the many animals who need a forever home.
Discern Medical Issues
For some seniors, a loss of hearing or vision may contribute to their inability to be social. Encourage them to get regular tests for these senses and offer to give them rides to the doctor or even come along, to help with any questions they may have.
Contribute to a Nonprofit
Volunteering is a great way to honor someone’s memory while simultaneously giving their surviving spouse something vital to do. This allows them to do good work for your community while focusing their energies into something positive. Alternatively, they can donate to a cause like The Michael J. Fox Foundation, the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder Alliance https://www.pmdalliance.org, or the American Parkinson’s Disease Association in their spouse’s memory.
Invite Family Over
With your loved one’s permission, invite some family members over for dinner on a regular basis. Sharing meals is a very comforting thing and can encourage your loved one to stop withdrawing from social events.
Remember to try and remain patient with your loved one and listen to what they have to say. Often, loneliness is caused by the feeling that no one is listening to us or our needs. That means you don’t need magic words; just being present and listening is the best way you can show that you care. For more information about Parkinson’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, and a place to share your story, visit Dementia for Dessert.
You will find my book Parkinson’s: A Love Story with Dementia for Dessert on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Parkinsons-Love-Story-Dementia-Dessert-ebook/dp/B07K4RLC2D/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1542135434&sr=8-1&keywords=Parkinson%27s+A+Love+Story+with+Dementia+for+Dessert&dpID=41xS3edPH0L&preST=_SY445_QL70_&dpSrc=srch Your feedback and reviews are most welcome.
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