Your elderly father passed away a few months ago, and now mom’s living alone in the house you grew up in. Ever since dad died mom just hasn’t been the same, and you can just tell she isn’t taking care of herself like she should. But now it’s gotten to the point you’re worried about her health and wellbeing, and if mom will be able to continue aging comfortably in place at home. Fortunately, there are several proven ways to help a parent cope with the death of a spouse, starting with these.

How Losing a Spouse Impacts a Senior

When an older couple has been married for years, each partner oftentimes slides into specific roles within the household. For example, your mom may have taken care of the grocery shopping, laundry and cleaning, while dad focused on paying the bills and doing the yardwork. As a result, when one dies the surviving partner is forced to take on tasks that are unfamiliar, which can oftentimes be overwhelming.

Then there’s the loneliness factor, which typically hits hardest around meal time or other activities that the couple once shared. Widowed women oftentimes also feel unsafe at night while home alone. According to experts, these are some of the warning signs to look for after a senior has lost a spouse:

  • Not paying their bills on time
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Substance abuse
  • Not keeping up their home or appearance like before
  • Not enough food in the home
  • Lack-of-interest in activities once enjoyed
  • Not getting enough exercise

If your widowed parent is currently exhibiting one or more of these behaviors, their health and wellbeing may be at risk.

How Can I Comfort My Grieving Parent?

There are several ways to comfort an aging parent who’s going through a grieving process, including these:

Respect Their Unique Grieving Pattern

According to specialists at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center (www.hopkinsmedicine.org), there are 5 stages in a grieving process. However, your mom may not experience those in the same order, or for the same duration, as someone else. For example, if dad died after a long illness, your mom may still be dealing with constant reminders like unpaid medical bills or writing thank you notes to loved ones. Let her grief play out in its own way without forcing the issue.

Address Her Physical Needs

Losing a spouse is stressful, and that pent-up emotion can cause many physical problems. Try to help mom take better care of herself by:

  • Making sure she’s ea