Losing A Roommate In Assisted Living Or Nursing Home: How To Help Your Mom Or Dad Cope

Losing someone close is never easy, but it can be particularly challenging to an elderly person in a nursing home or assisted living. It's a profound loss because the departure creates an entirely new dynamic in the immediate living environment and the emotional toll is great as well. Here are four ways to help your elderly mom or dad cope with the loss or their roommate.

1. Go With Them To The Funeral Services

Even if you didn't know the roommate very well, when someone that close to your mom or dad has passed away, it's important that you support them as they pay their respects. Go together and allow your elderly parent their rightful grieving process. It doesn't matter if they weren't close to the decedent or if they got along well; it matters that someone close in your parent's life has been lost and that there is a formal process to go through. That formal process helps everyone heal, allowing them to move on.

2. Be There When Family Collects The Belongings Of The Deceased Roommate

You want to do all that you can to ensure your parent isn't by themselves in the room when the deceased roommate's family comes to gather belongings left behind. This is a sad experience for everyone, but can be particularly lonely for your mom or dad. They may have known a lot of people who've passed away and that alone is a lot to deal with in life. Being there when the family comes to clear out the room could either provide a good distraction to your mom or dad or give them the strength they need to go talk with the family (of the roommate), perhaps offering a story or two about the decedent that could make everyone smile. Either way, this can be a heavy time for your parent and as such, you being there could make it much easier.

3. Visit More When The New Roommate Arrives

Adjusting to the new roommate may be a sensitive issue for your elderly parent, so be there, as much as you can. Initiate conversation with the newbie and try to include them in future activities, such as walking the grounds, if everyone is able, or bringing extra blueberry muffins next time you visit. Your interventions could help the two newly introduced roommates to get to know each other more quickly and hopefully, get along quite nicely.

4. Let Your Elderly Mom Or Dad "Vent" As They Adjust

If your mom or dad was particularly close to the roommate who passed away, they may need to talk about the loss, more than you realize. Try not to change the subject, even if you've heard it all before, because discussions like this help people overcome grief. Losing a roommate and seeing them replaced, especially if it happens more than once, is going to be difficult. It's one of the heaviest issues your parent can face in a nursing home or assisted living and it's the time when they need you most, especially as a good listener.

While time does heal most wounds, losing a cherished roommate when you're in a nursing home or assisted living creates a different kind of void and one that is difficult for most outsiders to absorb. With you there to help them through, though, your mom or dad should heal and eventually be able to move on, hopefully making a friend of the new roommate. For more information, contact your local assisted living communities.