Archive | April 2012

Widowhood and Bereavement

 My grandmother is a widow; she lost the love of her life, my grandfather, over 15 years ago. I know their love story by memory since she loves to talk about my grandfather. She smiles and tells me how great he was and that she misses him; the love of her life and father of their eight children. When my grandfather passed away my grandmother thought she was not going to survive without him. She suffered not only because she missed him but also because she felt remorse for the bad times they went through as a couple. Although they loved each other, they had many problems in their long relationship. They overcame the problems and stayed together until the end. My grandmother says that staying together was the best thing to do since they made that promise the day they got married and their love was real. When my grandfather became sick my grandmother prayed for him to stay with her longer but sadly he passed away. My grandmother had to accept it and continue with her life. Widowhood is a stressful part of life and it can be harder for some elders than others. Elderly widows/widowers go through a lot to overcome their grief and bereavement.

The elderly go through many challenges when they lose their spouse. According to the University of Michigan, it was thought that it was harder to survive the sudden death of the loved one since people start their grieving process when their loved one is suffering from a long term sickness. But it turns out that if their spouse passes away of a sudden death the shock may be easier to overcome, but if the spouse suffered from a long term disease it appears that it is more difficult to survive (Swanbrow, 2001). Some elders become depressed and do not want to continue with their lives and others move on easily. It is a process that they go through to survive the loss of their spouse.

The shock of losing their spouse can negatively affect the widow/widowers mental and physical health. My grandmother became hypertensive and since then she has suffered from insomnia. Some widows/widowers report loss of appetite, palpitations, fatigue and symptoms similar to the ones that their spouse had. Some of these elders might develop illnesses (Osterweis, 1985). Some elderly may start drinking and smoking trying to feel better but all these things just aggravate their problems. Most physical and emotional problems related to the loss of a loved one typically last a while and then disappear (Osterweis, 1985). The elder spouse may grieve for a short period of time while it is a longer process for others and it can even last a lifetime. The first step for the elders to continue with life is accepting that their spouse is gone and looking for help. They may feel like being lonely but it is better if they focus on the support they have from their children, family members and friends. Psychological and social support can help the elder widow/widower survive the loss of their spouse. Cognitive therapy helps them deal with emotions and treat their depression.

When reality hits, things may become harder before they become better. The grieving/bereavement process has stages. The stages are; denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (Dryden-Edwards). One must go through all of those stages to get to the point where the loss of the spouse does not hurt as much as it did in the beginning. My grandmother went through all those stages, at first she denied that my grandfather was sick and when he passed away she did not want to accept it. She then felt angry that she could not do anything to help him and she felt guilty. The bargaining stage was very painful for her, she is a Catholic, she kept asking God and the saints what did she do wrong that had caused the loss of her spouse. Depression came next and again more physical symptoms along with it. Family support, going to therapies and church helped her overcome depression. One day she woke up and said that it was time to let go of the pain, she was finally accepting that my grandfather was in a better place.

Today my grandmother is a happy woman. She loves to share stories of when she and my grandfather met, that is something that makes her happy. Her children’s support and most of all, her religious beliefs have made her a strong woman. She does have one thing present in her mind all the time; that she will never let go of the memories that she has from my grandfather. Widowhood is a horrible thing that is inevitable but having support from your loved ones will definitely make a difference and might help make the process easier.


Works Cited

Dryden-Edwards, R. (n.d.). Grief: Loss of a loved one. Retrieved from Osterweis, M. (1985).

Bereavement and the elderly. Retrieved from

Swanbrow, D. (2001, April 09). The university record. Retrieved from


Elder Abuse: A Real Problem

The elderly deserve to be treated with respect and care, but unfortunately the reality for some elders from the US and all over the world is the opposite since they are abused. Elder abuse is defined as “intentional or neglectful acts by a caregiver or ‘trusted’ individual that lead to, or may lead to, harm of a vulnerable elder. Physical abuse; neglect; emotional or psychological abuse; verbal abuse and threats; financial abuse and exploitation; sexual abuse; and abandonment are considered forms of elder abuse. In many states, self‐neglect is also considered mistreatment” (National Center on Elder Abuse [NCEA], 2010). Elder abuse is a real problem, and the saddest part is that it is commonly perpetrated by family members or caregivers, the people who are supposed to be providing care to the victims, not abusing them. Any elder can become a victim since there are no ethnic or cultural barriers and no social-economic statuses when it comes to elder abuse. It has been found that women and older elders are more vulnerable to be abused and that the elderly that suffer from dementia are at a higher risk (NCEA, 2010). It has been estimated that between one and two million older adults ages 65 years and older suffer some kind of abuse each year in the US alone (NCEA, 2005).

There are many kinds of abuse that the elderly are victims of. Some elderly suffer from physical and psychological abuse, neglect, or are financially exploited. According to the Administration on aging, physical abuse occurs when the elderly are intentionally hurt by someone, by inflicting pain or any type of physical injury such as bruises or burns. They may also become victims of sexual abuse which happens whenever it is un-consensual or they are molested. Emotional abuse happens when the elderly suffer from inflicted mental pain; it can be verbal abuse or humiliation, threats of fear and intimidation. Moreover, some elderly suffer from neglect abuse, which happens when the person that is supposedly providing care to them does not provide them food, health care, adequate shelter, not meeting their personal needs or have them live in unsanitary conditions. They may be practically abandoned when they are neglected. The elderly are also vulnerable to being exploited, which is also a kind of abuse. This happens when someone illegally takes their financial assets, property or money. In my family, my grandmother’s brother has been exploited by his own son. He has threatened him when he wants money, and since my uncle is in his late 70’s and suffers from diabetes, he can’t defend himself so other family members have stepped in to stop the abuse. All these types of abuse are serious and should be reported but unfortunately many are kept in silence.

There are hundreds of thousands of older adults worldwide that have been abused once or multiple times. In the US, more than one million Americans 65 years or older have been abused. The exact number is unknown since many of the victims never report that they have been abused (NCEA, 2005). In other developed and developing countries the same story is repeated. Elder adults are abused and most of the times the abuses that they suffer go unreported, making the problem grow. In some countries elder abuse is considered a private matter and the topic is a taboo and it is ignored (World Health Organization, 2011). Here in the US, there are laws in all 50 states that protect the elderly from abuse, but the abuse has to be reported for there to be solutions.  

Elderly abuse is committed in different settings, most commonly at home but it can also happen in nursing homes and other institutions. Many elderly live alone or with family members, so when they are abused, it is common to find that the abuser is a family member or paid caregiver, someone that the elder knows. Abuse can happen in nursing homes too and there have been many stories of elder abuse in these places that get attention but most abuse does not happen here (American Psychological Association). Many elder adults have been victims of abuse in other institutions like clubs or senior day care centers but abuse in these places is less common than abuse at home or nursing homes.

To conclude, elder abuse can happen to anyone. Elders from all socio-economic backgrounds, cultures and races are vulnerable to suffer some type of abuse. The risk is higher for certain groups; women, older elders and elders that suffer from dementia (NCEA, 2010). It may be hard to determine if an elder has been abused and has not reported it. There are many warning signs that can alert one if an elder has been abused. The abused elder’s personality may have changed, and/or they may have withdrawn from many activities and might have physical injuries that would make the abuse obvious. Changes in their financial situation may also indicate some type of exploitation (Administration on Aging, 2009). There are many things that can be done to prevent elder abuse; reporting abuse is the first step and applying the laws that protect the elderly. Keeping in touch with the elderly may help prevent the abuse. I think that people should also be aware of the types of abuse and how to help if they find out that a family member or friend is a victim. It is really sad to hear stories of our elders being abused when they should be loved, respected and taken care of. We can make a difference and stop elder abuse.


Administration on aging. (2009, October 08). Retrieved from

American psychological association. (2012). Retrieved from

National center on elder abuse. (2005). Elder abuse prevalence and incidence. Retrieved from

NCEA. (2011). Retrieved from National Center on Elder Abuse website:

World Health Organization. (2011, 04). World health organization. Retrieved from





This entry was posted on April 9, 2012. 1 Comment