Helping a grieving parent
A friend lost his father after a short but courageous battle with cancer.   

Most of the family had moved away from Salt Lake City, UT so they returned to plan the funeral, remember his father and console his mother.  Something that never occurred to them until it was almost too late was how dependent his mother was on her husband and how lonely and vulnerable she would be after the funeral when everyone returned home. 

She had been married over 50 years—this would be the first time she would live alone, and there were many daily activities she had never done. 

The family did not have the time or ability to adequately care for her needs, so they felt they had to make a rushed decision to either leave mom home alone hoping she does okay, or move her into an assisted living facility.

The transition to living alone is often much more difficult than many people recognize.  Newly bereaved seniors have a significantly higher rate of both physical and mental health problems to include much higher rates of depression, disability, medication use and hospitalization—which is magnified by loneliness and/or the inability to perform tasks that were traditionally done by the deceased spouse.
For most, the true challenge begins a few weeks after the funeral when friends and family have returned to normal life, visiting and calling less often assuming everything is fine.

The death of a spouse can make even the most basic daily activities a challenge creating a downward spiral of physical and mental health.  According to the Washington Post, Among older Americans, the death or illness of a spouse increases the mortality rate for the surviving spouse, a 2006 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found. Over the nine years of the study, a wife's death increased the husband's risk of death by 21 percent; a husband's death raised the wife's risk by 17 percent. Even a spouse's hospitalization raises the risk of death.

Yet while bereaved spouses' lives change forever, most find ways to "adapt over time and arrive at a level of functioning -- physically, psychologically, emotionally," says Michael Caserta, a University of Utah gerontologist and bereavement researcher.” 

So what to do?

Most seniors say they want to remain at home—even after the death of a spouse—rather than move into a facility.  Despite this wish, women are 49% more likely to be moved into a facility and men are 71% more likely after the death of a spouse out of the family’s fear that living alone is unsafe.  What is  not realized is how difficult emotionally the move can be—leaving familiar surroundings to a care facility often compounds the emotional trauma, leading to greater isolation and loneliness and accelerating the physical and mental decline.
Decisions do not need to be made in haste—a better solution is available.

What my friend and his mom needed was time.  Time to grieve, time to adjust, and time for the family to truly decide what was best for her long-term wellbeing.  At Interim HealthCare of Salt Lake City, we created a care plan that provided for all her needs and most importantly—allowed her to safely remain at home.  We maintained her household, ensured she had good nutritious food to eat, and drive her to and from the cemetery, her doctor’s appointments, and the grocery store.  Our caregiver even became a trusted and valued companion when she just needed someone to talk to. 

We took care of the tasks she would otherwise have to do herself so she could focus on her own needs and healing.  Her family knew she was safe so they could focus on being there for her emotionally.
Months later my friend thanked me for the help, saying he didn’t know how his mom would have recovered had they moved her from her home.  She and her husband were always very proud of their home and the thought of leaving was devastating to her.  Home care was seen as an addition to her life where moving from home was seen as a disruption. 

Now his mother needs just a few visits per week to help with errands and light house keepings—another great benefit of home care—it’s flexible and based on your needs, so the cost is often far less expensive than facility care. 

If you'd like to discuss home care options, please call 801-401-3515 or fill out the form on the left and we will call you soon.

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