Aging in America: Coping with Loss, Dying, and Death in Later Life

On March 27th, Baue Funeral Homes, Crematory, and Cemetery hosted The Hospice Foundation of America’s Aging in America: Coping with Loss, Dying, and Death in Later Life at Spencer Road Library. 

Jennifer Ryan Galantowicz, Vice President of Business and Market Development with REACH LTC, lead the discussion after the teleconference. 

The senior population is growing rapidly as 10,000 people become Medicare eligible every day. And by 2030, the 65 and older age group will make up for one-fifth of the population. So, we were extremely excited to host the timely and relevant webinar teleconference: Aging America: Coping with Loss, Dying, and Death in Later Life. 

Growing older presents several challenges. Seniors may face chronic health conditions, economic fluctuation, and difficult social issues, such as loneliness, isolation, and depression. As mental health professionals, clergy, hospice workers, and caretakers, it is important to meet people in the trenches of their pain and companion them through their grief. Understanding these struggles and providing the empathic support for this population is essential to remaining emotionally congruent. 

“This program had phenomenal insight to where we are and what we need to change.” 

The diversity of the presentation was impressive,” Galantowicz stated,” types of grief, interventions, and support of bereaved, the generational shift in caregiving and the term “elder orphans,” as well as how we can all better support and embrace transitional care – are all discussed. 

Loss of autonomy is a common struggle among the aging. Losing one’s ability or privilege to drive, having the capability to live alone safely, or enduring debilitating medical conditions are all losses that the senior population grieves. 

The loss of autonomy accompanies a feeling of being out of control. Professionals must provide relevant and proven interventions that will assist in the aging population feeling heard. Life review and dignity therapy address the suffering in loss and dying by asking the patient to reflect on his or her life, find meaning, and leave messages for loved ones. 

“There are a unique set of characteristics associated with baby boomers, different from previous generations. We, as an industry and evolving culture need to be prepared to shift and broaden support offered, as well as review our method of delivering this support,” Galantowicz added,” Technology, in-person delivery, interactive groups, and activity-based support will all need to be considered as ways of reaching this integral part of our population.”