Responses to Loss or Change
There are different ways of coping with loss and change. If there is a personal adjustment to different situations during the first 50 years, it is very likely to cope with what is coming during the next 50 years. On the other hand, if the person did resist change throughout life, this will continue and experience negative effects that may include the following:
Grief and Grief Stages
Different people experience grief and loss in different ways. Groundbreaking research on death and dying by Elizabeth Kubler Ross identified stages of grief that are now recognized as normal for any type of loss or change. The grieving process does not take place in steps but in cycles. People move in and out of the following stages at their own pace.
Nearly every person will go through some or all stages as mentioned above at least once in life. This is a part of “growing up” as personality and the aging process. The value of the experience is an enrichment of character to most but a disaster to some. Like a “computer” can crash it is possible the hard drive is damaged forever or can be recovered/replaced. When things take the normal course in life – as most of the time – there is a continuation and progress of the age. But sometimes it is going the wrong way.
Possible Causes of Difficult Behaviors and How to Cope.
Individuals respond to changes and losses in different ways as mentioned before. The following are some of the responses of the elderly to be aware of and only by observation, communication and persuasion changes can be made. For non-medical professionals, it is often hard to argue with licensed/registered medical persons. In these cases, fact gathering and confrontation is the best way to convince. A less friendly but often effective way is to put all responsibilities on the shoulders of the medical responsible person and make clear that all events are recorded and registered for later use. This methods does not make friends but is sometimes the only effective way to persuade.
Look for the cause of the behavior, including major changes and losses:
Pain, undiagnosed physical illness such as constipation, urinary tract infections, dehydration, etc
Watch for signs of pain or illness and seek medical care. The problem patient and caretakers will face is a disbelieve and often not appropriate care by employees in the healthcare services due to misunderstanding.
Medication side effects. Most medical products are described for too long periods. The body adjusts to all medication as it does to supplementation and food. Using the same drugs is often counter-effective. Doses need to be adjusted or completely stopped. Change of medication can avoid side effects in the long term. It is important for each individual to register every change in health, the emotion or mental state during the use of specific medication.
Lack of proper nutrition – Taste changes. Things that used to taste nice lost attraction. Older people limit themselves more and more. There are several reasons for this. The difficulty in this is that some people get a lack of proper nutrients due to behavior and personal limitations. Additional foods, smaller meals or increase of liquid meals with additional supplementation are suggested alternatives.
Uncomfortable environment – Is it too cold, hot, bright, loud, etc.? Sense and sensitivity are changing. Light can be or too bright or to less. Heat and warm come closer and temperature becomes an uncertainty, especially when women enter menopause or in general when there is significant weight loss. The sound is another problem. The sense of sound is changing and often different tone levels do not reach the sensitive parts in the ear anymore. Hearing loss is a general problem. When the senses deteriorate most people start to doubt the sense of life.
Fatigue. Loss of energy is often a combination of factors. Nutrition, personal loss, lack of goals and purpose of life. There are many reasons for draining energy levels. It is important to find which reasons.
Lack of activity. Much elderly loss the sense of activity. This is a vital problem as the activity is moving and this keeps the “motor” running. A minimum of 30 – 60 minutes per day of minimum activity is needed for effective health control.
Feelings of powerlessness and loss of control. The technical developments are in a race through time and space. Many elderly are losing sight of these developments. Often they get confronted with innovations or novelties they do not understand or control.
Confusion or memory Loss. Maintain a calm environment and reassure the person.
Use memory aids. Be consistent. Keep household furnishings and objects in the same place
Do things the same way at the same time each day. When changes must be made,
prepare and support the elder and do everything step by step in a guided controlled way.