There is a strong correlation between social interaction and well-being among older adults, with social isolation having significant adverse effects. Of all the changes involved with moving into long term care, sharing a home with other people does at least bring company and friendship at a time in life when loss of a loved one is common. However, everyone deals with bereavement in different ways. Being able to identify the differences between depression and grief can help homes to offer the appropriate social support to residents. It's key to develop an awareness of when they should be encouraged to take part in social activities and celebrations and when they would prefer to spend quiet time alone.

Celebrating a Shared Life

In long-term care facilities, grief can have a profound presence, but acknowledging it more openly, addressing its consequences and talking about loved ones can bring solace.

Seniors celebrating a birthday

Many people like to continue to celebrate birthdays and other anniversaries that they used to share with their partner, and it can give great comfort to remember the past times experienced together. Social gatherings offer the opportunity to tell stories of their life together. In this way, sharing their happy holiday anecdotes can help keep the memory of a loved one alive.

Time for Quiet Reflection

All good assisted living and long-term care nursing facilities pride themselves on the level social activities they can offer, arranging entertainment and parties in order for their residents to feel engaged and enjoy the many physical and mental benefits of social interaction. However, at times this may be overwhelming for some people.

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For example, the first Christmas after a bereavement can amplify feelings of loss, so if it is too soon, it should also be understood that some people would prefer to sit out a particular celebration, spend time alone in quiet reflection, and be allowed to grieve quietly on their own.

Establishing New Traditions and Rituals

It’s likely that after many years together, a couple will have many special, significant dates that, after a loss, may be too painful to celebrate. Moving into long term care can provide the chance to start enjoying new traditions and routines for a new stage in life. Many assisted living facilities and nursing homes have their own individual ways of celebrating, such as holding a tea party every month to mark residents’ birthdays. However, as well as large public commemorations, studies have shown that people who appear to cope better with bereavement perform new personal rituals that are meaningful to them and that help them to address their grief. If nursing staff are aware of these rituals and traditions, they can enable them to continue in some way, helping residents to continue to benefit from the comfort they bring.

Holidays and celebrations are never easy after the loss of a loved one, especially during the first year when many reminders trigger feelings of grief. Many older people will find comfort in keeping busy, interacting socially and sharing celebrations while others may want to spend time alone in quiet contemplation. With a little thought to recognizing these differences, all residents in long term care can be given the support that they need to grieve in their own way.

Editor's Note

Most of us will always prefer to be able to stay in our own homes as we get older. You may have noticed as you drive around, however, the number of new assisted living facilities, rehab facilities, memory care facilities, and nursing homes that are being built. There is a reason for all that new construction – demand.

Longevity is wonderful but with aging comes the much higher risk we will need these long-term care services. While we might start with care at home, often that leads to assisted living or other extended care facilities.

Unlike decades ago, these facilities have been designed to meet not only your health needs but your social and spiritual needs as well. Assisted living facilities are known for the high level of social activities available. However, even nursing homes have come to understand that need to have an environment people feel good about as they spend their life there.

There is a big cost. The financial costs and burdens of aging impact you, your family, your assets and lifestyle. Without Long-Term Care Insurance, the costs will be paid out of your assets and income. For many people, it will significantly drain their hard-earned savings very quickly. 

Remember, caregiving is hard on your family members and paid care can change you and your spouse’s lifestyle as well as wipe out savings and investments.

The easy and affordable solution is affordable Long-Term Care Insurance. While many people think they can wait to buy this product “when they need it”, the fact is you can only purchase it when you enjoy fairly good health.

Experts say the best time to obtain coverage is prior to retirement – in your late 40s through your 50s.

Some people think Long-Term Care Insurance is expensive or has substantial rate increases. The fact is today’s Long-Term Care Insurance is very affordable and is designed and regulated to be rate stable. Some even offer death benefits if you are lucky enough to never require care services.

Start your online research be finding the current costs of care services in your state. You can also learn if you state offers Long-Term Care Partnership plans which provide additional dollar-for-dollar asset protection. Your state might even offer tax incentives on top of the federal tax benefits available.

Find your state here.

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance, a national consumer education and advocacy group, says to be sure to get the help of an experienced and qualified Long-Term Care Insurance specialist. Most general insurance agents or financial advisors are not well versed on how these policies work, how they get underwritten or even how they get used at the time of claim. That can cost you money!

Find a Long-Term Care Specialist here.

When you have a Long-Term Care Insurance policy it will help you secure a successful future retirement. It will give you and your loved one’s peace-of-mind and you will enjoy your choice of quality care in the setting you desire.

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