Old age often represents a series of losses, whether gradual or abrupt. Retirement entails losing one’s work role, the companionship of colleagues, and the structure of a full day, along with a reduced income. For those cohabiting, it may mean less time apart. This transition can leave individuals feeling diminished, uncertain about how to occupy their time, and experiencing a loss of social standing. 

Unfortunately, most developed societies fail to uplift the image of senior citizens, who are often patronized, marginalized, or overlooked as a burden on welfare systems. Nurturing elderly loved ones through these losses demands empathy, patience, and comprehension. So how can we take better care of elders enduring loss?

Open and Honest Communication

Effective communication is the foundation of helping elders cope with loss. Encourage your elderly loved ones to express their feelings, memories, and emotions. Offer a listening ear without judgment, and allow them to grieve in their own way. Honesty and open discussions about the realities of life and death can help alleviate anxiety and uncertainty.

Encourage Professional Help

It is important to recognize when professional help might be necessary. If an elder’s grief is overwhelming or causing severe emotional distress, consider the assistance of a therapist or counselor specializing in grief and bereavement. They can provide the necessary guidance and support to navigate the complicated emotions that come with loss.

Maintain Social Connections

Loss often leads to isolation and loneliness, which can have detrimental effects on an elder’s mental and emotional well-being. Encourage your elderly loved ones to maintain social connections with friends, family, neighbors, support groups or even animals. These relationships can provide much-needed companionship and a sense of belonging, which are essential for the healing process.

Create a Routine

Establishing a daily routine can help bring a sense of stability and purpose to an elder’s life. Routine can be especially comforting when grieving, as it provides a sense of predictability and control in a world that may seem chaotic. Ensure that their routine includes physical activity, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep.

Foster Physical Well-being

Taking care of an elder’s physical health is vital during times of loss. Encourage them to prioritize regular check-ups, medications, and a balanced diet. Physical well-being can directly influence mental health, as a healthy body can better cope with the emotional strain of loss.

Engage in Meaningful Activities

Engaging in activities that provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment can be a powerful antidote to grief. Encourage your loved ones to pursue hobbies, volunteer, or creative pursuits that bring joy and satisfaction. These activities can be a source of comfort and a way to channel their emotions positively.

Be Patient and Understanding

Grieving is a unique and highly personal process. Be patient and understanding of the pace at which your elderly loved ones move through their grief. Avoid pushing them to ‘move on’ or ‘get over it.’ Allow them the time they need to heal, and respect their individual journey.


Taking care of elders enduring loss is a compassionate and empathetic endeavor. It requires us to provide support, maintain open communication, and encourage the pursuit of physical and emotional well-being. By understanding the grieving process and offering unconditional love and care, we can help our elderly loved ones navigate the challenges of loss with dignity and grace. 

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here

Charlot Cauchi is a Gestalt Psychotherapist at Willingness. He has experience working with adult clients with mental health difficulties, anxiety and depression, loss and grief, traumatic experiences, stress and relational issues.


Pitt B. (1998). Loss in late life. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 316(7142), 1452–1454. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.316.7142.1452