At The Reutlinger, we are experts in the aging process and strive to educate our residents, future residents and adult children about what to expect as a parent ages. In this four-part series, we explore the aging process and provide tips to help adult children navigate and manage these changes.
Our lives are marked by constant change. Graduating college, finding employment, getting married, becoming a parent – all these and more are the milestones by which we measure our lives. As we age, we find ourselves changing as well, sometimes in large ways and sometimes in smaller but no less significant ways, retiring, moving into a senior community or requiring caregivers. The change that comes with age is often defined by a sense of loss: loss of identity, purpose, independence, mobility, functionality – all these things and more add up to a shifting reality.
“Seniors are bombarded with constant change, from the physical and emotional to mental and situational,” says Andrea Campisi, Marketing and Admissions Director of The Reutlinger, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Danville, CA. “Caregivers and loved ones play an important role in helping seniors and aging adults work through these difficulties and reaching acceptance of their new reality. There’s a grieving process that must be worked through in order to get to the other side to cope with and accept these everyday losses.”
The Stages of Grief
Many of us are familiar of the Five Stages of Grief developed by Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross . These stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – were originally developed to explain the grieving process that an individual goes through when dealing with a terminal diagnosis.
“We usually associate the five stages of grief with dealing with external losses, like the death of a parent or loved one,” says Campisi. “However, Kübler-Ross never intended them to be used in that way. The stages were specifically developed to deal with personal, individual journeys of loss, whether that be the diagnosis of a terminal illness or something smaller, like not being able to drive in the evenings anymore. At The Reutlinger Community, we’ve found that these stages of grief can be used to help seniors internalize and accept the everyday personal losses they face as they age.”
Our society generally doesn’t tend to view everyday losses and transitions as something that should be grieved over. How many times have you heard someone say this: “Just get over it!” or “It’s not so bad – other people have it so much worse! What are you complaining about?” or “It’s time to move on!” In order to transition in a healthy way, we need to give our aging parents and other loved ones the space and the ability to adequately grieve these small but important losses and get to the other side.
The Stages of Grief for Everyday Losses
Here’s an example of how an aging parent may exhibit the five stages of grief as they’re experiencing an everyday loss, like mobility issues.
How You Can Help Your Aging Parents Cope with Loss
The five stages of grief are not a rigid progression and can easily shift back and forth for a long time. As an adult child, it’s more important to think of them as guidelines for how your aging parent is feeling. By understanding what they are feeling and going through, you can better assist, support and help them through this journey.
The biggest gift you can give your parents at this time is acknowledgement. Our first reaction when there’s an issue is to provide advice, or try and fix it or, even worse, try to take over because we “know better”. But what your parent needs at this time more than anything is acknowledgement of their pain and what they’re feeling. Although it seems like something small and simple, it’s the biggest thing you can do to help make things better.
Here are some ways you can show your acknowledgement and support of your aging parents’ struggles:
Premier Senior Living, Dedicated Care
rehabilitation, The Reutlinger Community provides a continuum of care that allows seniors to live a life-enhancing and stimulating environment. Located in Danville, California, The Reutlinger’s newly renovated 110,000 square foot community combines the comfort and familiarity of home with seasoned senior care and skilled nursing specialists to suit any seniors needs, allowing them to live the life they choose with freedom and security.
Because we specialize in a continuum of care, our residents never need to worry about leaving the community they call home or wonder what will happen when they need some more care. Residents and families alike can have peace of mind knowing that there are full-time licensed nurses available, along with activity coordinators, social workers, caregivers, a concierge and Rabbi who focus solely on helping each resident thrive. Even better, our services and amenities are equal to those of a state-of-the-art resort. This is the lifestyle and care that your loved one deserves.
At The Reutlinger, seniors have numerous opportunities to engage in award-winning programs that are designed to engage the mind, renew the spirit and provide opportunities to meet new people and learn something new. Whether residents are enjoying our art program and museum, listening to a lecture or educational program or attending spiritual programming and our wide range of activities, there’s something for each resident to love. Participate as much or as little as you like, the choice is all yours.
For more information or to schedule a personal tour, contact us today.