Death is a prevalent yet terrifying concept that we as a race will never be able to be at peace with. In a strangely ironic way, we encounter death in the news, video games and movies but always manage to disconnect ourselves from the idea that our road will eventually come to an end. But as the years mount up, aging adults start to fear the reaper. Even worse, people start to loathe their own life, perhaps even wishing for a swift end. Coping with an aging family member who suffers from thanatophobia – the fear of the process of dying – is very difficult and family members or caregivers are often confused about how to deal with the sudden mood swings and general brooding behavior of the senior.
Finding the Cause of Fear
The first step towards helping the elderly person overcome the anxiety surrounding death is to identify the cause. For example, this fear might occur because the aging relative is in a transitional phase of their life. Such periods occur multiple times during our lifespan – a mid-life crisis is one such example – and people often become plagued with depression as they start wrongly thinking how unfulfilling their life has been or how little they have done.
Anxiety is also the result of a fear of the unknown. No one knows what awaits us on the other side of the veil, and uncertainty fills seniors with dread or remorse. An elderly person living on their own might be afraid of what could happen to their physical form after their last breath is taken. Who’ll find the body? What will the family’s reaction be? And what would happen to their precious belongings?
Awareness of the approaching end is also the byproduct of not having goals anymore. Many seniors feel down after losing a spouse or being moved to a retirement home and have nothing much else to work towards. Lastly, a sense of fear develops by thinking about the pain and misery that comes with slowly withering away.
Lending an Ear Is More Important Than You Think
As a family member or caregiver, the key to dispelling the dark clouds from a senior’s mind is to exercise patience and compassion. Neither of you can know how much time the aging relative has left, so helping them overcome the fear of death will gift you both with happy remaining years. Try to bring up past achievements, reminiscence on family events and help the elderly relative to remember the good old times.
It also a good bonding opportunity to offer a hand in planning things for the inevitable future such as arranging their legacy, because it gives them the feeling that even after passing away things will be taken care of and friends and relatives will remember the senior fondly. If the relative is widowed or has a hard time alone, persuading them to visit a senior community center will help or, even better, buying them a new pet as a new companion to care of. Most importantly, however, be sure to always be there for them when they need to talk and assure them that they won’t be alone.
Can Medical Alert Systems Also Be Helpful?
Unfortunately not every relative can afford to be at the elderly person’s side all day long, and even caregivers need a day off. Although medical alert systems are primarily meant for aiding people in calling for help with a push of a button, the monitoring service is perfect for granting peace of mind for lonely and depressed seniors. When browsing the medical alert companies be sure to investigate whether or not their care agents also provide assistance in non-emergency situations as well. In such cases aging adults are able to call the operators simply when feeling blue or even having suicidal thoughts. The agents will receive access to the caller’s medical history, while their kind voice and helpful advice will motivate seniors to get back in the saddle and stop worrying.
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