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Care that encourages strong, well-informed and independent seniors.

How To Help Someone Who Is Grieving

Education Center, Elder Care Issues

If you have a friend or loved one who is grieving, it can be difficult to figure out how to bring them comfort. Your actions and words do matter. The smallest gestures can make a profound difference to someone in the grieving process. Although grieving takes time and there’s no way to speed the recovery process, here are some ways to be supportive, courtesy of Harvard Medical School’s HEALTHbeat.

Name names. Don’t be afraid to mention the deceased. It won’t make your friend any sadder, although it may prompt tears. It’s terrible to feel that someone you love must forever be expunged from memory and conversation. Saying how much you’ll miss the person is much better than the perfunctory, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Don’t ask, “How are you?” The answer is obvious—”not good”—and because it’s the same greeting you would offer anyone, it doesn’t acknowledge that your friend has suffered a devastating loss. Instead try, “How are you feeling today?”

Offer hope. People who have gone through grieving often remember that it is the person who offered reassuring hope, the certainty that things will get better, who helped them make the gradual passage from pain to a renewed sense of life. Be careful, though, about being too glib, as doing so may make the bereaved person feel even more isolated. Rather, say something like: “You will grieve for as long as you need to, but you are a strong person, and will find your way through this.” This remark both acknowledges that there is no quick and easy solution and also affirms your confidence that things will improve.

Reach out. Call to express your sympathy. Try to steer clear of such phrases as “It’s God’s will” or “It’s for the best” unless the bereaved person says this first. Your friend or relative may need you even more after the first few weeks and months, when other people may stop calling. Check in every now and then just to say hello (you may find it helpful to put reminders on your calendar). Most bereaved people find it difficult to reach out and need others to take the initiative.

Help out. Don’t just ask if you can “do anything.” That transfers the burden to the bereaved, and he or she may be reluctant to make a request. Instead, be specific when offering help. Bring dinner over, pass on information about funeral arrangements, or answer the phone. Pitch in to clean up the kitchen. Sometimes your help is most valuable later. A lawyer might help answer questions about the estate. A handy person might button up the house as winter approaches.

Assist with meals. Provide hands-on assistance with cooking, and volunteer to help with shopping. For many bereaved persons, particularly widows and widowers, it can be a big adjustment to get accustomed to planning meals, shopping for groceries, and cooking for just one person.

Listen well instead of advising. A sympathetic ear is a wonderful thing. A friend who listens even when the same story is told with little variation is even better. Often, people work through grief and trauma by telling their story over and over. Unless you are asked for your advice, don’t be quick to offer it. Frequently, those who are grieving really wish others would just listen. It’s your understanding—not your advice—that is most sorely needed.

Avoid judgments. Your friend’s life and emotional landscape have changed enormously, possibly forever. You may wish he or she would move on, but you can’t speed the process or even ensure that it happens. Let your friend heal at the pace that feels right and in his or her own manner. “You should cry” or “It’s time to move on” aren’t really helpful directions.


Physically Active Mid-Lifers More Likely to be Active Into Old Age

Elder Care Issues, Resources for Seniors

Physically Active Mid-Lifers More Likely to be Active Into Old Age

Men who are physically active in mid-life are more likely to continue the habit into older age as well, finds a long term tracking study published in the online journal BMJ OpenPlaying sport is the physical activity most likely to stand the test of time, the findings show, prompting the researchers to suggest that encouraging early and sustained participation in sports might help people to stay active in old age. The health benefits of being physically active throughout the life course are well known, but the transition from mid-life to old age often coincides with major life events, such as retirement, when both the amount and frequency of exercise are likely to change, say the researchers. (Gray, 9/20)


Healthy Aging Tips Including Medicare’s Preventive Services

Active Senior Living, Medicare Patient News
If you are feeling lonely or down, volunteer your time. You'll make a difference in your community, expand your social network, and possibly feel more fulfilled.

If you are feeling lonely or down, volunteer your time. You’ll make a difference in your community, expand your social network, and possibly feel more fulfilled.

Here is the U.S., many seniors live active, healthy and long lives. You can too. Here are some things you can do to help you stay healthy and active as you age, according to the National Institute on Aging.

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Keep your mind and body active
  • Don’t smoke
  • Get regular checkups.
  • Practice safety habits to avoid accidents and prevent falls

 

Disease prevention and early detection services can keep you from getting certain diseases or can help you find health problems early, when treatment works best. Talk with your doctor or health care provider to find out what tests or other services you may need, as described in this chart from medicare.gov, and how often you need them to stay healthy. If you have Original Medicare, you’ll now be able to get a yearly “Wellness” visit and many preventive services at no cost to you. Visit Medicare.gov for more information.

September is Healthy Aging Month

Take this time to get serious about your health. Here are 10 Tips for Reinventing Yourself courtesy of Healthy Aging® Magazine.

  1. Do not act your age or at least what you think your current age should act like. What was your best year so far? 28? 40? Now? Picture yourself at that age and be it. Some people may say this is denial, but we say it’s positive thinking and goes a long way toward feeling better about yourself. (Tip:  Don’t keep looking in the mirror, just FEEL IT!)
  2. Be positive in your conversations and your actions every day. When you catch yourself complaining, check yourself right there and change the conversation to something positive. (Tip: Stop watching the police reports on the local news.)
  3. Have negative friends who complain all of the time and constantly talk about how awful everything is? Drop them. As cruel as that may sound, distance yourself from people who do not have a positive outlook on life. They will only depress you and stop you from moving forward. Surround yourself with energetic, happy, positive people of all ages and you will be happier too. (Tip: Smile often. It’s contagious and wards off naysayers.)
  4. Walk like a vibrant, healthy person. Come on. You can probably do it. Analyze your gait. Do you walk slowly because you have just become lazy or, perhaps, have a fear of falling? (Tip: Make a conscious effort to take big strides, walk with your heel first, and wear comfortable shoes.)
  5. Stand up straight! You can knock off the appearance of a few extra years with this trick your mother kept trying to tell you. Look at yourself in the mirror. Are you holding your stomach in, have your shoulders back, chin up? Check out how much better your neck looks! Fix your stance and practice it every day, all day until it is natural. You will look great and feel better. (Tip: Your waistline will look trimmer if you follow this advice.)
  6. How’s your smile? Research shows people who smile more often are happier. Your teeth are just as important to your good health as the rest of your body. Not only is it the first thing people notice, but good oral health is a gateway to your overall well-being. (Tip: Go to the dentist regularly and look into teeth whitening. Nothing says old more than yellowing teeth!)
  7. Lonely? Stop brooding and complaining about having no friends or family. Do something about it now. Right this minute. Pick up the phone, landline, or cell and make a call to do one or more of the following: Volunteer your time, Take a class. Invite someone to meet for lunch, brunch, dinner, or coffee. (Tip: Volunteer at the local public school to stay in touch with younger people and to keep current on trends, take a computer class or a tutorial session at your cell phone store to keep up with technology, choose a new person every week for your dining out.)
  8. Start walking not only for your health but to see the neighbors. Have a dog? You’ll be amazed how the dog can be a conversation starter. (Tip: If you don’t have time for a dog, go to your local animal shelter and volunteer. You will be thrilled by the puppy love!)
  9. Make this month the time to set up your annual physical and other health screenings. Go to the appointments and then, hopefully, you can stop worrying about ailments for a while. (Tip: For a list of recommended annual health screenings, a great resource is the My Health Finder. Here’s what Medicare Covers.
  10. Find your inner artist. Who says taking music lessons is for young school children? You may have an artist lurking inside you just waiting to be tapped.  Have you always wanted to play the piano, violin, or tuba? Have you ever wondered if you could paint a portrait or scenic in oil? What about working in wood? (Tip: Sign up now for fall art or music classes and discover your inner artist!)

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