Grief is a powerful emotion that we can all experience at different times in our lives.
Many people think of grief as a natural emotion that affects individuals where there has been a death of someone close such as a spouse, family member, friend or even a cherished pet. Often the grief can be accompanied by profound sadness and bereavement. This type of grief is related to a loss relating to a tangible relationship that has been important to that person. However grief can present itself in many different ways.
When considering grief in relation to a person’s senior years there are many times when this emotion can surface.
Individuals may experience enormous grief when the frailty or health issues of their partner means they are no longer able to care for them at home. This experience can leave them feeling quite numb and at risk of depression as they contemplate and make a number of decisions relating to the care of their partner. Often the end result of this will be that someone they deeply care about will need to move into an aged care facility. While it may be the right decision to make, it is nevertheless an extremely difficult one which can produce a range of other emotions including fear, anger, denial and anxiety.
Grief can be felt in relation to losing a certain emotional connection with a partner, unfulfilled retirement plans and chartering waters that are unfamiliar. This can be the case particularly when medical issues are involved such as Dementia. There are many uncertainties and individuals need to recognise that they are vulnerable at this time because of this.
As a Psychologist I believe that allowing time to adjust and work through grief is essential. Ensure your own needs are met; get adequate sleep, eat well, exercise and maintaining a few key hobbies and social connections. Being open to the support of family and friends is also important. People need people and the opportunity to talk about what is going on in their life, how these changes impact on them and to receive encouragement from others.
At Belvedere our Spouse Support Group for families of our residents living with Dementia has been running successfully for a few months. Group participants with similar experiences talk and raise issues in an understanding and supportive environment. These sessions aim to create a forum where people can ask questions and cover topics that will build on their knowledge of our aged care services. Belvedere is planning to host a number of educational and information sessions targeted at family members and information about these programs will be communicated soon.
For further information about individual or group counselling, contact Carmel Drobnik, Clinical Services Manager.