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How Grief Can Lead to Physical Illness

Grief is often thought of as an emotional state that occurs after a loss. Though this is true, losing a loved one can also generate additional issues and lead to serious physical illness for seniors if they do not find ways to effectively manage their emotions. The staff at Home Care Assistance, a leading Anchorage home care agency, discusses a few of the physical ailments that can come as a result of grief.

Decreased Cognition

If your loved one’s mind is consumed with grief, he or she may experience foggy thinking and memory loss. This can make it harder for your loved one to make smart decisions regarding his or her health. For example, grieving may cause your loved one to forget to take medication on time because he or she is distracted by sorrow.

Higher Risk of Substance Abuse

Seniors sometimes begin using drugs or alcohol as an attempt to manage their negative emotions. Unfortunately, even a small drink can have serious consequences for your loved one’s health. For this reason, you should be aware of signs your loved one is using drugs or alcohol to manage grief, which may include finding empty bottles of pills or alcohol in the trash.

Weakened Immune System

Stress hormones resulting from grief can have a dramatic impact on your loved one’s immune system, which can leave him or her vulnerable to common illnesses that are serious for older adults. This can also occur if your loved one is exposed to germs through hugs and handshakes from well-meaning family and friends who only want to provide comfort for his or her grief.

Increased Risk of Malnutrition

It is important for seniors to eat nutritionally balanced meals every day. However, a senior who is grieving may be tempted to skip meals if he or she experiences a loss of appetite. This is especially common for seniors who lose a spouse because they often lose the motivation to sit down and eat alone. Malnutrition can lead to a host of other physical problems, including fatigue, illness, and injuries like broken bones. Fortunately, you or an Anchorage hourly caregiver can provide companionship and meals during the day to alleviate this threat to your loved one’s health while giving him or her the necessary support to manage grief.

Grief can have a significant impact on your loved one’s emotional and physical wellbeing, but a professional caregiver from Home Care Assistance can address both of those concerns. Our part-time and live-in caregivers can provide social stimulation and emotional support, prepare nutritious meals, and help with many other tasks throughout the day. We also offer comprehensive Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care Anchorage seniors and their families can rely on. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with one of our Care Managers, call (907) 770-0907 today.