Living Alone: Why an Elder Who Lost Their Partner Might Benefit from Home Care

Losing a partner can be devastating, but home health care provides support.
Image source: Flickr user eflon[/caption]

elderly woman home care
Losing a partner can be devastating, but home health care provides support.
Image source: Flickr user eflon

When my grandfather died, my grandmother was understandably devastated. They had been married for almost fifty years; she lost her the love of her life and her best friend. Needless to say, she wasn’t up to much socializing for a while, or inviting anyone into her home. However, we convinced her that she might benefit from home care, and did she ever! We found a wonderful woman to spend most of the day with her, and before long, they were fast friends. That home care worker stayed by my grandmother’s side until the end of her life. Is home care the right choice for your elderly loved one? Consider the signs and decide for yourself.

Home care helps elders continue monitoring their health

Was your elder’s spouse the one monitoring their health (procuring and dispensing prescriptions, making doctor’s appointments, etc.)? If so, one way they can benefit from home care is with the continued medical support if offers. Remembering to follow up with doctors, figuring out how to take multiple pills, and myriad other health-related responsibilities can seem overwhelming to someone who isn’t used to them – let alone a person trying to cope with the loss of a spouse. In addition, it’s not uncommon for elders whose partners pass away to become lethargic and depressed. Motivation to look after their own health can waver, and it helps to have a warm, friendly face most days to encourage them, and see to tasks they find onerous.

Home care keeps elders engaged in their community

Another way your loved one can benefit from home care is that it keeps elders engaged in their present community, where they may already have a built-in support system.
Nursing homes definitely have a place in the continuum of care, and it is possible that in the future your elder will need one. However, the months right after losing a partner may not be the best time for a radical shift in living circumstances. The elder has just undergone a traumatic experience, and a further lifestyle disruption can make coping with it even harder. One of the best things you can do right now is help the widow or widower keep to their routine. Part of that may be explaining how your elder can benefit from home care. This way, instead of having to get used to all new names, faces, rules, and so on, the elder can take comfort in current friends, neighbors, family, and other caring people they know.

Talk to your elder to see if they can benefit from home care

My grandmother, rest her soul, was as reluctant as the next person to receive professional home care. She was independent and set in her ways — some may even say she was stubborn. But by giving the home care worker a chance, she was able to fully realize the benefits. Talk to your elderly loved one, and see if they’re agreeable to discovering the many benefits home care has to offer.
If you are unsure of how to best help an aging loved one, the trained and compassionate staff at the Institute on Aging is here to help you make that decision and gain the best in at-home senior care. Contact us to find out more.

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