Archives for posts with tag: senior citizens issues

Last week we talked about the various emotions and the stages one goes through while coping with the loss of a loved one. This week, we will talk about how one can help others go through this process.

While mourning and grieving may be an extremely personal experience, it is essential for the family members to provide support and be there for those who have just experienced the loss. The most important thing one can do is to listen.

Listen

The importance of listening cannot be overstated. Take a cue from this personal experience:

One of our older neighbour lost her husband a few years ago. The couple had been married for 12 years. This wasn’t nearly as long as my parents had been together, but I think she actually took the loss worse. And this left her even more vulnerable as relatives and friends assumed that, since she had been a successful, independent career for most of her life, she would easily bounce back. Her needs were very different than those of my mom. She later told me that the kindest things people did for her following that death was just listen. Listen to her memories, listen to the plans they had for the future and listen to her share what made their relationship so special.

Sometimes when visiting the ones who are grieving, we tend to avoid the topic of the one who has just passed away or death altogether. While this may seem like a more comfortable, it is actually a source of great discomfort to the grieving. They need to talk about the loss and the more they talk about it, the faster they will be able to overcome it.

Pay attention to their mental and physical health

This stage of their lives poses some special risks for the elderly. Senior citizens are already at a higher risk for depression and mental health issues. Many may even begin to self-medicate with pain medicine or alcohol, leading to addiction problems. If your loved one does not seem to be doing well mentally, encourage him or her to seek professional counselling. Some may feel comfortable talking to a religious authority. Others may not know who to turn to for assistance. Help find a referral service and assure them that counsellors are now viewed as any other health professional. Many elderly citizens grew up with outdated stereotypes and may still view seeking counselling as a sign of weakness. Assure them this is not the case and, if you’ve ever received counselling, perhaps share this with them. It will help remove any misgivings.

Most importantly, be there in the time after the death.

The weeks following the death of a loved one are busy. Relatives often visit and the house is full for days after the funeral. Everything tapers off after a few weeks or maybe a month or two. Then the house becomes very quiet. Children have returned home. Friends have returned to work and the day-to-day details of life. This is when the reality of their new situation – life alone – sets in. This is when they need you most of all. And the simplest gestures now mean so much. Drop in on your way home from work with a small bouquet picked up from the market. Make a point to get together to watch a favourite team or an anticipated movie. Invite your friend out to lunch or, even better; invite him or her over to share a meal with your family.

The loss of a loved one is never easy. The kindness shown when a senior loses a spouse will never be forgotten.

Advertisements

It is often said that the most certain thing and yet the most forgotten thing is death. In our heart, we are all aware that one day we and everyone around us will die. However, even this certainty is not enough to prepare for one for the massive emotional devastation that occurs due to the death of a loved one. The impact is even more severe, when this happens at an old age, and we are left wandering the streets of a new world, all alone.

In the next  post, we will talk about a few ways in which we can all help our elderly friends in coping with such a loss. This post is about the various stages of grief a person will undergo as they try to deal with this loss.

The loss of a child or a spouse is the especially devastating. Having invested an entire life in building a relationship, or in case of a child bringing them up, their sudden departure can be almost life threatening. The world suddenly starts holding less meaning and this effect alone can be paralysing.

Everyone experiences a wide range of emotions when a death occurs, the five stages of grief area well known psychological phenomena, and usually everyone goes through them. They are:

  • Denial: A refusal to accept that anything has changed
  • Anger: As the pain starts to become more real, a person directs their anger towards the situation. However, unable to do anything about it, they channelize it towards anyone and everyone
  • Bargaining: At this stage, a person realises their helplessness at the situation and starts bargaining with God for a resolution of the situation
  • Depression: Sadness, regret, guilt, humiliation and any other emotion that disconnects a person from the world manifests themselves in this stage. The person blames themselves for everything that is happening and starts moving away from the world. This is a stage in which a lot of people get stuck
  • Acceptance: Very few people get the gift of reaching this stage, however, those who do, are able to truly get on with their lives. This is not a state of happiness, but a complete realisation of the situation and acceptance in its entirety

Coping with loss is a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help anyone go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that one goes through. However, others can be there for support and provide comfort through this process. The best thing one can do, is to allow themselves to feel the grief as it comes. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing.

While technology is certainly helping the elderly live an easier life, it is also leading to a reduction in the actual interactions people have with each other. This diminishing contact is resulting in a serious concern for the elderly, in the form of abuse. There was a time when it didn’t matter who the senior was, they were supposed to be respected and listened to, however we are now facing a situation where elders are becoming perhaps the most marginalized community in a society. And while issues of harassment are being raised as red flags, elderly abuse is not being addressed the way it should  be. These are people who have spent their lives helping people and now all they want is to spend the golden years of their lives in dignity, but are being denied this right by the society.

Elder abuse manifests in different forms, from  physical to  financial and leading upto the most painful and the most common, emotional. While sometime back we could come across a few instances while surfing T.V. channels or flipping through the newspaper, it is now something we can see on a daily basis. A recent survey by Help Age India pointed out that over 71% of the elders are facing abuse from their families and shockingly, sons and daughter-in-laws were responsible for a majority it. This is a difficult fact to digest, however it is the harsh reality of the times we live in. Steps need to be taken and the matter needs to be red flagged with greater intensity, as the abuse is not just confined to metros and big cities, but as the survey points out, is also prominent in smaller towns and villages.

One of the most important questions arising from the data is about its causes. Why do these kinds of atrocities occur? Is it just the generation gap or is there something deeper playing in the minds of people? We are staring into a stark reality  of degradation of the society. Are we moving into a territory which may ultimately lead to breakdown of all domestic ties? While these may seem to be unlikely future scenarios, the possibilities are real and we need to take notice.

The issue of elder abuse is a serious one. One of the best ways to prevent it is to know what it is and how it can be avoided. In the event that you know an elderly individual who is the victim of abuse, there are many resources you can turn to, from public authorities to legal professionals. If you believe someone you know is the victim of elder abuse, seek help. Drop in your views regarding this issue in the comment section.

If you encounter elderly abuse anywhere, please report it to people who can help. Here are a few numbers you can either contact or share with the victims to get in touch with directly:

HelpAge India: 1800-180-1253

Bangalore: STD code: 080

Nightingales and the Bangalore City Police: 1090 / 22943226

Nightingale’s Medical Trust Elders’ help line: 23548444

Dignity Foundation Helpline : 41511307

Chennai: STD code: 044

Help Age Senior Citizens Help Line: 1253

Dignity Foundation’s help line for senior citizens: 42133002

Delhi: STD Code: 011

Age well Foundation’s help line: 29836486

Police Senior Citizen Helpline: 1291

Mumbai: STD Code: 022

Dignity Foundation’s help line for senior citizens: 61381111

Mumbai Police &Helpage Elder Line: 1090

Shree ManavSevaSangh: 24081487

Kolkata: STD code: 033

Dignity Foundation’s help line for senior citizens: 306909999

Senior Citizen Helpline: 09830088884

Hyderabad: 040

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation – Aasara: Toll Free No: 1253

Heritage Helpline: 23390000

Satyam – HMRI – 104

Pune : 020

Dignity Foundation’s help line for senior citizens: 30439100

Remember the days when you were learning to walk, it was his finger that you held or after coming back from school, it was her who fed you with her own hands. Well those times are just a memory and you’re busy making a life in a new city, while your parents keep waiting alone for that one phone call from you. They understand your need for space and time, but isn’t it also time to give them back an installment of what they did for you. Give them back a glimpse of the house they had built, give them people whom they can talk to and give them a feeling of belonging to a place.

If it was possible for you to do all this, would you not?

So while you are away and they alone, do a few things to make them feel loved.

Remember birthdays & anniversaries

Remembering their birthdays, anniversaries or any other day they think is special will bring a special joy to your parents’ life. Send gifts, take them out for dinner and share as much spend time with them on special occasions. The memories you created for them will stay in their hearts and make them feel
you still love and care for them even if you don’t stay with them

Spend Some Time

Being in touch and spending time with them, when they least expect it, is often the best way to make anyone feel special and value. It may be a day you have specially planned for them or a casual dinner that you plan. Invite them over to your place or read a book out to them (this is too western to be
mentioned). Any way you spend time with them will be a memory to cherish for them.

Stay in Touch

So you are unable to make time to spend an entire weekend with them or even take them out someplace. How about just letting them know that you remember them, a short phone call asking them about their health and what’s going on in their life or an sms wishing them good morning. These
things that will not take much time, will develop into moments that they hold as the most precious.

Be grateful.

So you spend a minimum amount of time with them, perhaps festivals and special occasions get you together, even these moments can be made extremely special, with small gestures from your end.
A little gratitude goes a long way in making them feel special and valued. Say Thank You, smile at their jokes, take interest in their lives, turn off everything that you can, when you are with them. Small gestures such as these will go a long way and help them understand how crunched of time you are.

Every relationship is unique and only you can know the best way to make your parents feel special, these are just starters, it’s your desire to make them special that will make the difference at the end of the day.

So go ahead, think about what makes them feel special and do something about it, after all, they cared for you, when you needed it the most