The current generation of human beings has advanced technologies to help keep people alive in case of emergencies. Although older persons have a higher exposure rate to death than younger people, such experiences do not influence their willingness or capability to deal with grief successfully (Koenig & McCall, 2014). This assessment will attempt to understand cumulative effects of the loss of loved ones, grief management and measures taken by three elderly persons from different backgrounds in preparation for death.
Peter Burns is 75 years old and has been residing in a hospice for the last three years after the loss of his wife. Immediately after her death, Mr. Burns experienced the feelings of sadness and guilt and went through a six-month period of acute depression and chronic insomnia. His son had to institutionalize him for treatment and counselling after Mr. Burns had attempted to commit a suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills. Since the elderly do not want to burden their families and loved ones, they become disconnected feeling lonely. Family members are a crucial part of the support group helping their elderly during hard times (Koenig & McCall, 2014). Mr. Burns recovered fully with support from his son, being one of the grief counsellors at the hospice. The latter and their lawyer handle all man’s major decisions, including all funeral arrangements.
Miss Imelda Nunez is a 72-year old Spaniard who has recently lost her only daughter. The two had been living together in their two-bedroom apartment since they moved to the United States 23 years ago from Mexico. To cope with the feelings of loneliness and sadness, Miss Nunez joined a community support group for grieving widows. She has no living will and no funeral plans in place upon her death because she is an uneducated immigrant with no other family living in the states. Elderly people with a good educational background leave clear instructions to their lawyers and families as to handling their affairs before and after death (DeSpelder & Strickland, 2011). The majority of the illiterate geriatric population in America does not have a living will or any power of attorney in place to handle issues for them in cases where they are incapacitated. The responsibility mostly falls to the next of kin, close relative, final caregiver and, in other cases, the state.
The third respondent, Mrs. Rhonda Jones is 69 years old and lost both her husband and son eight months ago in a road accident. Unable to bear the loss, she withdrew from her family completely and sunk deeply into the state of depression. Mrs. Jones resorts to anti-depressants and other prescription pills to cope with her sadness. She hardly ever sleeps and tends to “zone-out” staring into space for hours. Rhonda resides in an assisted living center. Under a will drafted by Mrs. Jones, all medical decisions, issue of handling the family estate upon her demise, and funeral arrangements are under the management of her family lawyer. Most of the elderly who are in health care institutions are at an advantage because they receive care from trained professionals preparing them for the end (Roberts & McGilloway, 2010).
In conclusion, demise and grief are not very popular topics of discussion with anyone, especially with the elderly in the community. However, it is important to understand the importance of educating older adults on the process of grief, how to deal with the loss and prepare for the eventuality to avoid any incidences of disagreement over one’s affairs after death. Clear instructions on funeral arrangements and estate distribution will ensure that loved ones left behind can experience a normal grieving period over the loss. To provide the best care possible, the understanding of how elderly people with different backgrounds handle losses and death is critical to all nurses and healthcare professionals.